Yvonne Katz, formerly supt. of Beaverton OR and Spring Branch TX school districts, embarrassing retiring Westview High principal Len Case.

Dan Wieden talks about the night he wrote "Just do It" to a fascinated Wesview High School Media Studies class in 2001.

TSPC director Vickie Chamberlain conspires with OEA attorney Tom Doyle

TSPC director Vickie Chamberlain conspires with OEA attorney Tom Doyle
Chamberlain's three-and-a-half year manipulation of teacher discipline case conceals misconduct of Linda Borquist and Hollis Lekas of the Beaverton School District while interfering with the outcome of a federal lawsuit in support of an attorney formerly employed by the Beaverton School District, Nancy Hungerford.

Oregon ALJ Andrea Sloan collaborates with TSPC director Vickie Chamberlain & OEA atty Tom Doyle

Oregon ALJ Andrea Sloan collaborates with TSPC director Vickie Chamberlain & OEA atty Tom Doyle
"First of its kind in Oregon" decision helps unethical lawyers manipulate federal law suit after Beaverton administrators violated teacher employment contract

Signing a confession to conceal misconduct and influence a federal law suit

Signing a confession to conceal misconduct and influence a federal law suit
Tom Doyle of the OEA collaborates with OAH lawyers and Vickie Chamberlain of the TSPC

TSPC director Vickie Chamberlain makes finding based on secret "first of its kind" hearing

TSPC director Vickie Chamberlain makes finding based on secret "first of its kind" hearing
Chamberlain's delay protects Nancy Hungerford, former attorney for the Beaverton Schools, who colluded with attorneys for the OEA and the state of Oregon to violate a teacher contract and deny due process in a federal civil suit.

Confederation of Oregon School Administrators

Leadership Academy for Beginning Principals
July 18, 19 and 20, 2007
Linfield College

The Faculty:

Linda Borquist, Academy Coordinator

Victor Musial, Field Operations Director, OSEA

Colin Cameron, Director of Professional Development,COSA

Jill O'Neil, Principal, Beaverton Middle School - OMLA President

Vickie Chamberlain, Executive Director, TSPC

Kris Olsen, Principal, McMinnville High School - OASSA President

Matt Coleman, Principal, Westview High School

Shannon Priem, Communication Services Director, OSBA

Vickie Fleming, Superintendent, Redmond SD 2J

Perla Rodriguez, Principal, Cornelius Elementary School - OMLA President

Shawna Harris, Field Representative, OSEA

Nanci Schneider, NWREL

Craig Hawkins, Communications Director, COSA

Valerie Sebesta, Oregon Education Association

Sally Leet, Principal, Oak Grove Elementary School - OESPA Past President

Brian Traylor, Principal, Corvallis Elementary School - OESPA President

Holly Lekas, Regional Administrator, Beaverton SD 48 Joe Wehrili, OSBA

Michael Carter, Superintendent, Rainier SD 13

Philip McCullum, Director Administrative Licensure, University of Oregon

Authentic evaluation legally dated

Authentic evaluation legally dated
signed by retiring principal Len Case

Post-dated Westview High School evaluation 2002-03

Post-dated Westview High School evaluation 2002-03
Entered fraudulently at Fair Dismissal Appeals Board hearing: Malcolm Dennis (forced resignation; secrecy agreement) and Chris Bick, signing principals

2002 mini-documentary of the Westview High School "CAT CREW" by WHS media lab...

How Beaverton School administrators value classroom teachers Memorial Day 2010

(The WWF was a volunteer activity that I was asked to coach by then-Westview senior class president, Nicole Hermann. There was another faculty member present, Ms. Brask, who was never put on the record, either during the "investigation" or in the hearing where Mrs. Vangorder and Mike Chamberlain, Westview assistant principals, testified about the matter.

Chamberlain, who at that time had worked at Westview for two and 1/2 months, told me that, as a result of M.s Hogue's call to Ms. Vangorder, I would not be allowed to coach the girls' team, as I had been asked. Kaitlynn Hogue started at quarterback.

Beaverton School leaders employed administrators who were sheltered from misconduct; the result has been a large segment of underserved children and a high faculty turnover rate.

Gail VanGorder’s sworn testimony
Fair Dismissal Appeals Board Hearing (or NANCY HUNGERFORD'S COURTROOM)
June, 2004

Q. Let's go back in time a bit and talk about the Hogue incident. I'm a little unclear about the timing on this, so if you can tell me. There was something having to do with a WWF game?
A. Uh-huh.
Q. Was that in 2003 or was that in year --
A. Fall of 2003. This fall. October, I believe.
Q. That's not World Wrestling Federation?
A. Westview Women's Football. We didn't want to call it powder puff. I believe that may even have been Don's suggestion.
Q. Word got back to you from Mrs. Hogue about Don saying something inappropriate, allegedly?
A. Yes.
Q. And Mrs. Hogue's daughter was there at the practice?
A. No. Mrs. Hogue's daughter wasn't at the practice.
Q. So how did Ms. Hogue find out about that and come up with this allegation?
A. Students at the practice talked to Kaitlyn, and Kaitlyn repeated it to her mother. I'm assuming that's how it happened.
Q. All right. Does Ms. Hogue work in the building, the district building, at all?
A. No.
Q. She's not superintendent, is she?
A. No.
Q. I didn't think so.


A Poem about Stewardship and Greed; a Symbol for Problems in Schools

Oil Spill©

Is a misnomer
for stewardship
in exchange
for greed.

Profit pushing
suffocating oil
over the wings
of thousands of...
and, human lives.

Everyone connected
in an eco and
economic web.
a way of life.
Poisoning the nest,
of our souls.

Who will speak for the voiceless,
and say no more?

Claudia Moorad
New Orleans BP Oil Spill
May 28, 2010

2001-2002 Westview High School Girls' Varsity Basketball Senior Tribute

May 25, 2010 To: Betsy Hammond, Oregonian staff (on why Oregon's dropout rate is "not acceptable")

Thank you for writing a crucial piece about Oregon high school graduation rates.

Westview has a zillion-dollar theater program created by the former Beaverton empress, Janet Hogue. The parents and kids who covet that program (and programs like it) are all...covetous. Teenagers and status...

That drama program teacher (CJ Reid) rec'd vastly more $, technical assistance, administrative support and positive press than any other teacher. A drama trip to Europe with the fund raiser's and the board chairman's daughters (right before they applied to college) is an example of what attracted a different kind of kid/parent to her program than other teachers got...She had a lot of juice in both the student and the parent community.

Westview's "insider" counselors stacked classes so the "right" teachers got the "right" kids. The result is what you have seen in turnover and morale.

Most teachers aren't dumb-asses--they see the writing on the "privileged" wall. The easiest way to have an ascendant career (and avoid burnout by avoiding challenging children in large classes) is to suck up to "image" people who don't give a damn about kids whom a 70's TV show affectionately labeled "sweat hogs."

These are the children you wrote about today, the throw-away kids who repeat the same classes in the same part of the building, either with teachers who understand and accept them (Kamaka'ala, Coons)...or with teachers who are rarely supported and already burned out... rubber room teachers (Golbek).

Please understand, Westview gave a lot of easy A's to a lot of students--they had a plethora of valedictorians recently. Vangorder (now of the Lewis and Clark grad school...what irony; she can't run a high school and has never taught, so we let her train teachers...?) tried to make me give an A to a kid (Craig Crandall) who had skipped a month of classes in the last semester of his junior year. To conceal her misconduct, she persuaded the librarian to sign a sex complaint and still needed the school board to pay off Mac Dennis with a secrecy agreement and the TSPC director and the OEA lawyer to use a secret hearing that never allowed me to call Craig (BTW: Craig and I put together the only school-sanctioned skateboard competition*--Homecoming 2002--in Oregon's history. THAT'S how you keep kids in school...pass that along...)

I notice B'ton didn't have schools on either list in the graphic that accompanied your article. Westview's kids came to school and recognized they were members of a distinctive class (the building was actually physically divided---same at Meadow Park...legacy of Hogue, I believe) . Some had great opportunities and experiences. Most were basically reduced to being an audience for the kids who had power parents and driven agendas--the "winners." These were not bad kids, but the system conditioned them to be selfish and act superior...same with their teachers.

I remember, as my conflict with Vangorder was intensifying, Malcolm Dennis (in one of his rare leadership moments) replaced the 20-year-old high school graduate, Mike Ali (who had been responsible for millions of dollars of publicly-owned technology), with a woman (Nancy Brewer) who actually had a college degree and some education background. She was in the Westview media studio one day and we were discussing the children who were often assigned to my classes...over and over.

I can still hear her comment: "I heard your kids steal a lot."

My reply: "My kids are our kids whom others don't want to teach."

I have lost my right to earn a living in Oregon's schools because I believe every kid deserves to be on Carolyn Reid's fancy stage, not just Janet Hogue's children. The last time I said something like that, Beaverton officials used education money to hire a teacher-assassin named Nancy Hungerford to trash my career...she used her close association with Vickie Chamberlain at the TSPC to sabotage any chance I had for a fair resolution.

So, if you think your readers really want accountability, ask some of the cover-up cowards running the Beaverton system if they would like to be honest with the public (who actually owns the school--some "leaders" seem to have forgotten that) about how they really treat teachers. We will all sit together, eye-to-eye, without mendacious, expensive lawyers.

I am eager to meet with you and any courageous, honest Beaverton leaders to field questions about what happens to a teacher who asks that the "sweat hogs" be valued in the system. That way, the next time you write such an important piece, you will be able to include a crucial ingredient in good reporting: anecdotal evidence.

Don Bellairs, teacher

*Borquist's son Jeff was a participant.

2003 Westview High School "Advisory" program ( four-year home room) starring A. J. Anderson

Starring A. J. Anderson.  Narrated by Malcolm Dennis, former Westview High School principal. 
Written and produced for Dennis by Don Bellairs and presented at a 2003 staff meeting for BSD adminstrators.

Tom Husted, OEA "rep" (already paid well by hard-working teachers) gets HIS raise...But do Beaverton teachers have a healthy work environment?

May 24, 2010
To BSD classroom teachers:
An article from a couple of years ago...when you had jobs

Negotiators authorize strike against Oregon teachers union
September 16, 2008
By Paris Achen
Mail Tribune online

The Oregon Education Association’s 42-member professional service staff ended their 26-day strike over the weekend and are back to work today.
Beyond the obvious irony of a labor group getting struck by its workers is the critical timing of the OEA staff’s action.
Although they are small in number, the staff’s impact is large. That’s because the 42staffers are principally involved in motivating and mobilizing OEA’s 48,000 members into one of the state’s most powerful political forces.
OEA writes big checks (such as the $4.1 million the union has contributed this fall to Defend Oregon, which is trying to defeat a number of conservative ballot measures), activates huge phone banks and sends members door-to-door statewide.
Tom Husted, a spokesman for the staff, says pay increases—4 percent this year and 5 percent next year—were agreed upon several weeks ago. At issue were proposed changes in benefits, comp time and workload requirements.
Husted says that workers achieved most of their goal—to avoid “rollbacks” on existing contract conditions. “We feel good that we were able to hold our ground on most of the things that would have been rollbacks,” he says.
Husted says staff members are making up for lost time on ballot measure and candidate races for the Nov. 4 general election. “We’ll redouble our efforts,” he says.
A spokesperson for OEA management was not immediately available for comment.

Tags: Oregon Education Association; Tom Husted
Posted in Activism, Education, Politics No Comments

Nancy Hungerford, "Blackwater" operative for dishonest school administrators

From: The Oregonian

About 30 parents and former teachers picketed a conference for special education providers Tuesday, saying Oregon and Washington school districts are wasting time and money on attorneys instead of providing services to children.

Members of the group shouted through bullhorns and held signs reading "End the Silence" outside the Pacific Northwest Institute on Special Education and the Law, under way this week at the DoubleTree Hotel at Jantzen Beach.

More than 800 public school administrators, teachers and others are attending workshops that cover disability laws, court decisions involving special education students and education rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Protesters said the workshops deal more with school liability than with complying with federal regulations. They took issue with one workshop titled "Disability Harassment, Whistleblowing and Retaliation," presented by Nancy Hungerford, a West Linn attorney whose firm has represented 100 school districts around the state in a variety of issues.

"I think whistle-blowers would say if you would fix the problem, we wouldn't have to be whistle-blowers," said Pamella Settlegoode, a former special education teacher for Portland Public Schools who was fired and subsequently sued the district.

Settlegoode was joined by other educators who'd lost their jobs and parents who said their students have suffered retaliation for their complaints about a child's education.

Organizers of the conference said their objective is to give educators information to help them avoid problems.

"The whole idea to do the conference is to do proactive law," said Ralph Julnes, the director of school law at the University of Washington's College of Education, which sponsors the event. "Most of the people are school administrators, and they need to know the law to stay out of trouble."

In her presentation, Hungerford discussed court rulings in cases involving school employees who've alleged they lost their jobs because of advocacy in special education.
She said the presentation is not meant to keep whistle-blowers quiet. "These are major issues that school administrators need to know about," she said.

But outside the conference, parents told stories of fighting for services and spending money for attorneys to get services in school districts all over the Portland area.

"Special education in Oregon is being run by attorneys right now," said Laurie Stuebing, a parent who said she has spent $200,000 on legal fees in a fight with the Northwest Regional Education Service District for services for her autistic son.

Laurie Recht said she wished someone would have told her when she left the hospital with a newborn daughter with cerebral palsy that she would need an attorney for the next 21 years.
Her 9-year-old daughter held a sign that said, "I am a human being."

2002 Westview Student Activities "Target Kids" winter-holiday stewardship program

Own Your Stuff...To: Gail Rasmussen, OEA president May 19, 2010


Looks like Mitch McConnell's era is about over...

Since I have become one of the people your organization demeans (there seem to be a number of us out here...?), I have become dedicated to helping people see how your operation really serves people who pay your salary, and trust and depend on you.

I worked in a school where class issues influenced educational opportunities. Because I asked to be treated fairly, I was criminalized while my mother was dying. By ignoring my situation, you--and other decent people who work at OEA--are linked to the "Kickback Katz" Era in Beaverton: disposable staff; violated contracts; union betrayal, favoritism and cronyism; drama trips to Scotland, half million dollar secrecy agreements, racism. Dot-dot-dot. I was not bitching-and-moaning...I was working to improve my school--for ALL the members of our community (at least that was my record before Tom Husted and the Beaverton Education Association began representing me).

Public schools officials avoid scrutiny by calling attention to a school's "monuments" (successful programs that are promoted and publicized) to distract the general public from the process that happens out-of-sight. If you are watching the news (and I'm sure you are aware of the vote in the Bluegrass), you realize the general public is tiring of being deceived.

Reform begins with accountability and oversight. You, personally, have treated me nicely on those occasions when I was unable to contain my frustration and sought you out at the union's well-appointed headquarters...but you are avoiding the truth about my situation and its larger implications about the OEA.

Unaccountable representatives of your organization have stolen a lot from me because (so Borquist tells me) I was "arrogant" (uppity?). Because I believed I deserved equal pay, fair treatment and respect as a teacher who was working 70-hour weeks with children in Beaverton schools whom others didn't want to teach.

I had the courage to stand up for myself. By myself. I had other things to do with my life than to fight with selfish people. I had asked to quit; that fact is documented.

Where was Husted? Meeting regularly with the people who were exploiting OEA members while they were paying his salary...

I paid you every month for ten years and now I don't have a license to work because I wouldn't sign a confession. Vickie Chamberlain, TSPC drector, used her office to cover up for Borquist, Lekas and the Hungerfords...all serial liars who violated my contract with a below-the-belt sneak attack (permitted by Husted) and then criminalized me for years (with Doyle's help). Their callous behavior made my mom suffer unnecessarily at her death and none of them has been held accountable (that's about YOU).

How did the OEA serve Don Bellairs? My most recent memory is of your attorney, Toledo, telling me to contact the Oregon Bar Association if I had a gripe about OEA "advocacy"...and watching you, PRESIDENT OF THE OREGON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, nodding your head affirmatively.

Please own your stuff, Gail. Lead by example.

Don Bellairs, teacher

Westview High School 2001 Media Studies project about diversity at the state's largest public school: "Eyes of the World"

Jeff Hanson and Yao Tzio make something to be proud of...

To: The...gasp...NEA "deciders": May 18, 2010

Gail Rasmussen, OEA president
Hanna Vaandering, current OEA vice-president (former BEA president)

To those who may be concerned:

Currently, a few unaccountable officials with the Oregon Education Association are depriving the teaching profession of due process of law in Oregon. The result: an arbitrary teacher discipline process (see: Vickie Chamberlain, TSPC) that enriches greedy lawyers while creating a subculture of disposable employees where training, evaluation and support for classroom teaching are superseded by the self-interest of influential individuals.

Human beings are at their worst when power is concentrated. A lot of teachers in our state are being deceived about the use of their union dues.

For your information...

Don Bellairs, teacher

2003 Westview High School Freshman Lit/Comp Parents' Night

2003 Westview High School Freshman Lit/Comp Parents' Night
Kids from a very diverse English class star demonstrate their talent and knowledge on a festive night created for their parents.

Daily rushes from 2003 Westview High School Adv. Media original production "Wishes, Wisemen and Little Pigs"

In an effort to learn the structure of story-telling, we focused on "three's"--missing from the list in the title. (To English teachers: Do you use the 'Oxford comma' after "Wisemen"?

Image and Status: Our Schools' Naked Emperors

“A Former Forest Grove School Board member was indicted earlier this month with two counts of first-degree aggravated theft and one count of first-degree criminal mistreatment.”*

Shawn Vilhauer, the former Forest Grove school board member who allegedly ripped off a defenseless 70-year-old man, must have some experience with exploitation. School board members, after all, have incredible power (and control over money and employees) within their political sphere. What kinds of people did this guy like to hire? What sorts of genuine interest in the success of his schools did this guy show? Who was hurt by greed?

I know there have been leaders in Beaverton who share this man’s self-interested motivation. My own unfortunate remark to a new superintendent about the inappropriate influence of “privileged” people began a four-year siege on my reputation and career, a vicious, punitive attack by well-connected bureaucrats and their well-paid (with public money) lawyers.

If any Forest Grove employee was damaged by Vilhauer’s ethical shortcomings when he made decisions on behalf of Forest Grove’s school children, that employee deserves to have his or her situation reviewed, just as I am entitled to have my inappropriate termination from Beaverton in 2004 reviewed by oversight officials. My termination ordeal revealed systemic cheating that is the result of self-serving people viewing public schools as a place with a lot of uncounted money. The system of teacher discipline that my ordeal exposed me to is unfair to Oregon’s teachers and taxpayers.

We need to remember these are public schools and not the property of a few misguided people who have lost sight of the importance of fair and equal opportunities . When we see the “deciders” benefiting personally (i.e. fundraisers and school board chairs taking drama field trips to Europe)…well, that is called "conflict of interest” by people who are concerned with those sorts of things.

So, when I read about the new jewel in the
Beaverton Schools crown, I am happy for the teachers and kids who will have access to an $11 million dollar performing arts facility…But a word of CAUTION: Should any Beaverton teachers feel that certain children and staff are getting more than their share of this expensive space, don’t mention it to your superintendent or you may find your union has been notified and that you are charged with an array of offences you will never be allowed to refute.

Big performance areas with high-tech accouterments in public high schools are variations on “artificial turf” or “state-of-the-art scoreboards,” stuff that has little to do with the mission of public education and has everything to do with image and status; they are the schools’ naked emperors, much-ballyhooed acquisitions designed to celebrate fundraisers and their school-aged children. Not enough has been written about the affects of materialism on the un-privileged in public schools--but all of us know that, every time we create winners, we also make losers.

What is the unintended affect on those without access? Aside from the obvious resulting inequity in teaching assignments, there is a desirability factor to status-conscious students and parents which makes the class more of a gated community than a common area. And the maintenance expenses and upkeep expensess are exponentially larger and disporportionate. Make no mistake about it: Our location in the social hierarchy is the lesson being taught when public school programs achieve exclusivity.

Because, if school board members tell the taxpayers that all kids have opportunities for success without attempting to provide all teachers with opportunities to succeed…well, now we are talking about the same sort of exploitation as cheating an old person, aren't we, Mr. Vilhauer?

(Forest Grove case most recent example of problem of elder abuse
By Rebecca Woolington, The Oregonian)

Allison Cherry and Kim Roth are Annie and Helen in 10th grade lit class at Westview High School (Beaverton Oregon) 2001

"OEA dues are political surcharges for teacher licenses" To: Gail Rasmussen, OEA President May 6, 2010

Gail Rasmussen, OEA president
Hanna Vaandering, OEA vice president

Sen Bonamici ; Sen Hass ; jerome_colonna@beavton.k12.or.us; leeann_larsen@beavton.k12.or.us; linda@leslieconsult.com; ode.frontdesk@ode.state.or.us; Betsy Hammond ;Camellia Osterink ;

Gail and Hanna:
OEA dues taken from teacher's salaries today are political surcharges that most (uninformed) Oregon teachers feel they are required to pay. My union representative, Tom Husted, met regularly and frequently discussed my employment with two of my supervisors, Linda Borquist and Hollis Lekas, yet he never contacted me about the content of those meetings. On the day that I was fired, Mr. Husted was already at Lekas’ office—with Malcolm Dennis and Mike Chamberlain--and he was well-prepared for a sneak attack that has damaged my career.

I and other trusting teachers were paying Mr. Husted’s (generous) salary while he was betraying me. He has never been held accountable.

The TSPC director, Victoria Chamberlain, used a manipulative state hearing (“first of its kind in Oregon”) to suspend my license three and ½ years after I refused to sign various "confessions" designed by lawyers to protect the Beaverton School District and OEA attorneys who were colluding on my case while using a federal law suit as a distraction.

I have plenty of faults and am eager to account for them all—just like everybody else, with the protection of the laws that prevent other (equally fallible) individuals from using powers of government to bully and exploit vulnerable teachers.

Ms. Rasmussen and Ms. Vaandering, this is my question to you as elected representatives: Who holds OEA employees accountable? I would like for those people to hear about my representation…

Don Bellairs, OEA member 1997-2007

"Rhetorical Respect for Exposed Educators and OEA Betrayal" To: Betsy Hammond, Oregonian staff May 5, 2010

After skimming Ms. Nielsen's essay about the importance of supporting school teachers in hard copy at the Starbucks, I was disappointed that I couldn't finish reading the piece on-line. I must not be looking in the right place...?

As I have told you frequently, the Beaverton School District leadership can spend up to $500,000 secretly to cover up exploitation of teachers and, by extension, their students.

There is some evidence that Yvonne Katz put a lot of selfish people in place in BSD leadership during the flush years when the high-tech industries were immigrating to Beaverton in droves.

At the same time, the OEA underwent change and growth and the leadership of the state's largest union now controls the state's education bureaucracy. Some administrators in big school districts like Beaverton, while sending all that teacher-money to the union, have grown very influential with state employees.

When it's going right, teaching is the best job in the world. No limits to creativity. My classes were always an effort to create the atmosphere that Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat and Darla created in The Little Rascals stories--my classes were heavily influenced by the way those kids turned junk into magic. They could do anything...just modified (The Little Rascals was one of the first racially-integrated TV casts).

I really liked to teach...especially hard-to-motivate kids. I was good at it. I understood and appreciated the cynicism and apathy that results in those much-discussed test scores.

My conflicts in Beaverton arose when people asked for more than their share. Because I told an inconvenient truth, I was fired in a vicious sneak attack. A part of that attack occurred when a writer at your paper printed some misleading information about my situation without ever speaking to me for my perspective. What is to reporters merely a day's work is to some of their subjects a life-altering event. Mr. Anderson's slanted and uniformed article about the FDAB results was the last news story my mother read about me.

When administrators know they can spend big bucks on lawyers and make a quick call to the union rep and the licensing agency director for support, they are less likely to be concerned with violating rules and laws governing the employment of teachers, public employees who are exceptionally vulnerable. An administrator with the desire to "dirty up" an employee--or merely to poison his or her work environment--can do some nasty stuff in the system I experienced. I was harassed for three and 1/2 years (by people at the TSPC I still haven't met) to sign a coerced confession that was designed to further damage my reputation and to cover up the vicious and false testimony of some of my (short-term) bosses. State-sponsored bullying...

So I am looking for today's article by Ms Nielsen to cite as an example of the Oregonian's editorial hypocrisy. The kinds of teachers who are able to reach challenging kids will never subjugate themselves to influential, selfish parents who demand special treatment or to unqualified and unsupervised principals who intentionally diminish their opportunity to succeed in the classroom.

I am but one example.

Don Bellairs, teacher

Out-takes from 2003 Westview High School Adv. Media Studies project "Wishes, Wisemen and Little Pigs"

With Mike "Puppy" McDonald, Fritz Brayton, Larry Arnold, Ryan Varella and many others...

"The Greater Good Doesn't Much Enter Into It..."


"...to just about every parent reading these words. Our children’s education is extremely important to us, and the greater good doesn’t much enter into it." Charles Murray

Why Charter Schools Fail the Test

NY Times Op-Ed May 4, 2010 Burkittsville, Md.

THE latest evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the oldest and most extensive system of vouchers and charter schools in America, came out last month, and most advocates of school choice were disheartened by the results.
The evaluation by the School Choice Demonstration Project, a national research group that matched more than 3,000 students from the choice program and from regular public schools, found that pupils in the choice program generally had “achievement growth rates that are comparable” to similar Milwaukee public-school students. This is just one of several evaluations of school choice programs that have failed to show major improvements in test scores, but the size and age of the Milwaukee program, combined with the rigor of the study, make these results hard to explain away.
So let’s not try to explain them away. Why not instead finally acknowledge that standardized test scores are a terrible way to decide whether one school is better than another? This is true whether the reform in question is vouchers, charter schools, increased school accountability, smaller class sizes, better pay for all teachers, bonuses for good teachers, firing of bad teachers — measured by changes in test scores, each has failed to live up to its hype.
It should come as no surprise. We’ve known since the landmark Coleman Report of 1966, which was based on a study of more than 570,000 American students, that the measurable differences in schools explain little about differences in test scores. The reason for the perpetual disappointment is simple: Schools control only a small part of what goes into test scores.
Cognitive ability, personality and motivation come mostly from home. What happens in the classroom can have some effect, but smart and motivated children will tend to learn to read and do math even with poor instruction, while not-so-smart or unmotivated children will often have trouble with those subjects despite excellent instruction. If test scores in reading and math are the measure, a good school just doesn’t have that much room to prove it is better than a lesser school.
As an advocate of school choice, all I can say is thank heavens for the Milwaukee results. Here’s why: If my fellow supporters of charter schools and vouchers can finally be pushed off their obsession with test scores, maybe we can focus on the real reason that school choice is a good idea. Schools differ in what they teach and how they teach it, and parents care deeply about both, regardless of whether test scores rise.
Here’s an illustration. The day after the Milwaukee results were released, I learned that parents in the Maryland county where I live are trying to start a charter school that will offer a highly traditional curriculum long on history, science, foreign languages, classic literature, mathematics and English composition, taught with structure and discipline. This would give parents a choice radically different from the progressive curriculum used in the county’s other public schools.
I suppose that test scores might prove that such a charter school is “better” than ordinary public schools, if the test were filled with questions about things like gerunds and subjunctive clauses, the three most important events of 1776, and what Occam’s razor means. But those subjects aren’t covered by standardized reading and math tests. For this reason, I fully expect that students at such a charter school would do little better on Maryland’s standardized tests than comparably smart students in the ordinary public schools.
And yet, knowing that, I would still send my own children to that charter school in a heartbeat. They would be taught the content that I think they need to learn, in a manner that I consider appropriate.
This personal calculation is familiar to just about every parent reading these words. Our children’s education is extremely important to us, and the greater good doesn’t much enter into it — hence all the politicians who oppose vouchers but send their own children to private schools. The supporters of school choice need to make their case on the basis of that shared parental calculation, not on the red herring of test scores.
There are millions of parents out there who don’t have enough money for private school but who have thought just as sensibly and care just as much about their children’s education as affluent people do. Let’s use the money we are already spending on education in a way that gives those parents the same kind of choice that wealthy people, liberal and conservative alike, exercise right now. That should be the beginning and the end of the argument for school choice.
Charles Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality.”

1999 Westview High School Media Studies presentation "The Kentucky Killer" starring Julie Leahy, Todd Telle and Sam Vore


The Union Label
By Nancy Flanagan on April 30, 2010 7:29 PM | 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

I hate writing blogs about the unions.

There's the obvious fish-in-barrel comparison, to begin with--it's easy to whip up a snarky, razor-sharp critique about pathetically bad teachers who follow the buses out of the parking lot, keep the ditto machine alive and entertain lunch colleagues with stories of the good old picketing days. But the truth about teacher unions is far more complex.

Unions are sometimes the only bulwark between ill-advised policy and the little-understood complexities of good teaching practice. Unions unabashedly insist that teachers' skills and contributions are worth a great deal to society--and should be remunerated in kind. They do serve a purpose. Most of the hackneyed clich├ęs about the evils of teacher unionism are muted by comparing academic outcomes and programs in strong-union states and right-to-work states. A non-union workforce may be more compliant, but they're not necessarily more professional.

What drives me crazy is all the things that unions could do--or do better-- but don't. Teacher unions don't promote genuine leadership and innovation in curriculum and instruction--unless it comes with a title or salary bump. Unions have not taken control of continuous professional learning and improvement for their members. Unions have not used technology tools effectively to build cross-state, cross-discipline learning communities. And unions have not encouraged teacher members to develop their own unique and powerful voices to inform policy and change.

I'd love to see the NEA version of "The English Companion," a teacher-created virtual staff lounge in heaven, for English teachers, filled with killer lesson plans, great literature suggestions, research synopses and robust professional conversation.

Instead, the NEA sends its members "Works4Me," a weekly newsletter of the "best tips culled from readers, a vehicle for instructional staff to share their ideas with other instructional staff."

Samples of your NEA dues dollars at work:

"I use my sandy nail files to clean the erasers on the pencils I keep for students to use during their standardized tests. I save lots of pencils this way and students turn in better electronic answer sheets."

"At the end of the school year, have this year's kids write letters to next year's kids. Give them suggestions on topics to include such as behaviors to avoid so they don't get in trouble or make the teacher mad, some great treats to look forward to that are annual events and what cool projects the new students can expect. It's great practice on letter writing skills for your current kids as well."

"I have a chant that we do before we take a test, to relax my students. It's a little silly, but the kids do ask for it if I forget:
We're going to take a test [clap, clap] We're going to do our best [clap, clap]
We'll do the ones we know and we'll try on the rest [clap, clap]."

"My class planted bulbs in little peat pots and covered them with plastic wrap until they sprouted shoots and roots. We are so often tempted to skip these fun projects while striving to cover the curriculum. One of my first graders made the extra time and money I spent on it worthwhile when he hugged his newly sprouted bulbs and exclaimed, 'This is the BEST day of my LIFE!' "

"We have a pep assembly a couple of days before standardized testing starts. Two teachers pretend they are cheerleaders and shake pompoms as they give a 'pep' talk about doing a good job on the tests, getting a good night's rest, etc. We have three teachers sit in desks and pretend to be examples of how not to take the test. One keeps turning around and bothering his neighbor, one cries, and one is not paying attention to directions. Breakfast is provided for students, teachers and classroom helpers on testing mornings. We also borrow an archway from the local hardware store and put Christmas lights on it with a sign that says, 'Entering Testing Zone'. The lights are on whenever we are testing."

So--what's wrong with these homespun suggestions? Don't we want first graders to plant bulbs in little peat pots? Sure we do--in fact, there's a nice little science lesson embedded in that activity. At least I hope that was a science lesson. Week after week, academic content and instructional ideas take a back seat to great treats, fun projects and not getting in trouble.

I also find the test-prep chants and rallies--not to mention the Christmas-light Testing Zone marquee--a more than a little schizophrenic. If we're besieged by endless, low-level testing, and railing against inappropriate use of test results, why would teachers be enthusiastically highlighting them as a special part of the school year?

As a teaching professional, this stuff doesn't work 4 me.
[Clap, clap.]

Gavin Bristol as Witless Woody in 1997 Meadow Park Middle School Theater Arts original musical "You Know My Name"

1995 Woodford County (KY) Middle School Accelerated Language Arts unit

Derby Day To: BSD School Board and Jerry Colonna, supt. May 1, 2010

Derby Day
May 1, 2010

To Jerry Colona, supt,
and Members of the Beaverton School Board

Dear Jerry and Board members,

We begin another month in another year and still I write to ask you to behave honorably. Today is the first Saturday in May and inside the track at Churchill Downs (the large grassy area enclosed by the racetrack known as the "infield") the masses are probably already a little tipsy on beer breakfasts and sugary mint juleps...

With each letter I send you, I am more resolved to finish what I have started. You must understand the principle: This would have been so much easier if Beaverton employees had been honest. I spoke truthfully of a culture of privilege and offended some of the bullies who have come to work in Beaverton schools, some of them with plenty to hide...

I am ramping up my public voice for this political season and hope to use Ms. Bonamici's campaign to publicize my plight. I never dreamed this would happen when I was working my ass off for seven years--basically re-training myself as a video production teacher while coaching ball, teaching time-intensive lit/comp classes in a crowded school and, for one year, serving on the administrative team as Activities Director. This was in a large public high school where some people got double pay for not-quite-full-time jobs. Of the two building principals who sat Hollis Lekas' office when she fired me, one (Mac Dennis) had been at Westview for 1 1/2 years and would soon be gone and the other (Mike Chamberlain, Westview's current principal) had been there four months, obviously padding my working file with contrived charges. (Jerry, did you ever wonder why, with all those administrators I had worked under, they used the two newest guys to fire me?)

When I voiced my concerns at a small meeting with the new superintendent ("She may have even deserved the part"), I had recently been cheated out of roughly twenty thousand dollars in equitable pay and had asked Linda Borquist to help me quit---I was working with her kid Jeff on my lunch hour at the time.

I was fired a few weeks later for sexually harassing the librarian. My mother, who had taught special education in an impoverished elementary school for 35 years, had recently moved from out-of-state to Beaverton and died watching me fight your vicious lawyers

With the tacit support of my union-appointed lawyer, the former ASSOCIATE SUPERINTENDENT ( !?!) for Beaverton Schools was able to deny several years of my work with her son Jeff while the Hungerford law firm used her false testimony to smear my work record and damage my career. The ability of unaccountable insider lawyers, paid secretly to co-opt OEA and TSPC employees, to harass me in several courts is more evidence of the depth of the concerns I voiced--appropriately--to Colonna and Tom Greene some six and 1/4 years ago.

I am eager to clear the false record created by employees of the Beaverton School District. I told the truth. Bernie Madoff ran charity golf tournaments...but he never taught class after class with 40 teenagers in an overcrowded school with unmonitored principals. Please begin the official process that will clear the false public record created when BSD employees violated the terms of my employment contract in February 2004.

Support classroom teachers in Beaverton schools. Just like the kids: all teachers need to feel valued and need to be treated fairly...

That will be reform.

Don Bellairs, teacher

Janet Hogue, then CEO of the BSD's fundraising organization, the BEF...

Janet Hogue, then CEO of the BSD's  fundraising organization, the BEF...
...representing herself as superintendent.

Oct 06 letter from new BSD HR director Sue Robertson

Oct 06 letter from new BSD HR director Sue Robertson
...blocking access to evidence that would demonstrate Beaverton administrative misconduct.

Response to Sue Robertson, BSD HR chief, concerning false allegations to conceal misconduct

Response to Sue Robertson, BSD HR chief, concerning false allegations to conceal misconduct

Letter from Jennifer Hungerford, former Beaverton atty referencing BSD money manager Dan Thomas

Letter from Jennifer Hungerford, former Beaverton atty referencing BSD money manager Dan Thomas

Hollis Lekas, former Beaverton HR admin., June 2004 "complaint" to TSPC...

Hollis Lekas, former Beaverton HR admin., June 2004 "complaint" to TSPC...
...after waiting on FDAB results.

Justice delayed...

Justice delayed...

...is justice denied, Tom Doyle-style

...is justice denied, Tom Doyle-style

Former TSPC investigator Nisbet working unethically with Tom Doyle, OEA atty

Former TSPC investigator Nisbet working unethically with Tom Doyle, OEA atty
Her actions were designed to affect the outcome of a federal lawsuit. She lost her job consequently (Like me, she was small enough to fail). The improper use of TSPC "stipulations" and "pass-the-trash" deals effectively lets lawyers and bureaucrats in Oregon education play "God" with student welfare and teacher careers...

TSPC director Vickie Chamberlain trying to work a "deal" with Doyle

TSPC director Vickie Chamberlain trying to work a "deal" with Doyle
Signing stipulations to protect BSD administrators who violated employment and civil rights laws

OEA Legal Conceals Fraud

OEA Legal Conceals Fraud
Mark Toledo tries to cover up for Tom Doyle

Former OEA President Larry Wolf denial of illegal civil suit filed by OEA atty Tom Doyle

Former OEA President Larry Wolf denial of illegal civil suit filed by OEA atty Tom Doyle
Wolf abdicates leadership of union's membership to OEA "Advocacy"