Wednesday, June 11, 2014

UPDATED "I'm telling you...what we were given and what has been built up in this district since 2009 has been amazing…" -HBOE Trustee Ruth McAllister (Part II- a "District in Need of Improvement")

A key component of "the Big Lie" is to convince people things were much worse before you got there and that there has been improvement since you arrived. Hoboken Board of Education member McAllister has ended recent Board meetings by telling the audience how bad things were "in 2009" and how "amazing" things are now. Recall, there was a previous post (Part I) examining some aspects of McAllister's claims. This time, let us look at the documentation and consequences of the "DINI" status of the district. 

Thirty months (30) after taking full control of the Hoboken Board of Education (May 2009-November 2011) and having full oversight of the Hoboken Public Schools, Ms. McAllister, her Kids First Board majority, and the Parents and Guardians of the School Children of Hoboken received a letter (see below) from the superintendent of schools informing them that the entire Hoboken School District was now classified as a District in Need of Improvement or a "DINI". A designation which the district never received before. 

The classification was because after two and an half years of Ms. McAllister and Kids First leadership, "the district did not make AYP (adequate yearly progress) in all grade spans within the district - elementary (grades 3-5) middle school (grades 6-8), and high school- for two consecutive years in either content area"

Ms. McAllister and her Board colleagues were in majority control for part of the 2008-2009 school year and for the entire 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years before receiving this designation in November of 2011. Therefore, it is difficult (but not impossible as we have seen) for her to blame previous administrations for this unfortunate designation by the State of New Jersey in compliance with the U.S. Department of Education.  

How does this happen? While it doesn't happen over night, it does happen quickly. Recall Ms. McAllister and her colleagues made sure the district's award winning High School principal was not welcomed any longer (and you "settle" on the resulting lawsuit). You receive claims of harassment by award winning teachers. You hire a series of retired, interim superintendent of schools, assistant superintendent of schools, high school principal, and business administrators all with no knowledge and questionable commitment to the City or to the district. You decide that the future of the district lies in administrators from Newark and Keyport and you fail to successfully implement an updated K-12 curriculum with corresponding planning guides and district assessments. Finally, you hire a superintendent from a 1 school district/vocational high school that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress in the last full year before his departure and lead a district identified for improvement by the NJDOE (DINI 1) (click here for verification; and here). The teachers are not at fault. The designation of a district in need of improvement is the result of poor decisions and poor leadership at the district and Board levels. Not amazing at all. Period. 

For Ms. McAllister and her colleagues this designation may be another example of the"amazing progress" of the district under their leadership. More likely, it may be yet another series of unfortunate facts that Ms. McAllister and Kids First just wishes were not known and vilifies anyone who brings such facts to the public's attention. 

Board Trustee McAllister is certainly entitled to her opinion of the condition of the district in 2009 and today. But, personally, I would think her time would be better spent looking at ways to remediate the current situation in the district rather than present ill-informed, biased, and fallacious tales of the district she and her Kids First members inherited in 2009 and the "amazing" things that have happened subsequently. 

See Part I for the "amazing" things Ms. McAllister claims has been accomplished by clicking HERE

The full "DINI" letter can be viewed by clicking here

Text of Trustee's McAllister's statement in March 2014: 

(56:20) Your biggest item is always personnel, it always it. So when we entered into this budget cycle and we knew that it was going to be tight most of us knew what it was going to mean and for those….pause….Mr. Enrico and for the teachers who are going to watch this and school employees who are going to watch this I just hope  the next couple of weeks aren't too rough because a lot of people are going to be worried and a lot of people are going to be scared and..I think that..I was always raised that know…you temper your attitude and your demenaor to the appropriate for the occassion and quite frankly that means you are not gleeful at a funeral and when there's a situation where people's jobs are on the line..people who have skill sets that really don't meet a wide variety of career choices that…a…sarcasm and insipedness is an inappropriate way to discuss any item. So…with that I'd also like to mention what actually has happened in this district over the last five years. I was elected in April of 2009. Prior to April of 2009 there was a hugh..and the whole reason why I ran was because of the whole "to do" about spending a tremendous amount of money on a new program. And the first thing I did in April of 2009…ah…(gestures to the audience) other board members (gestures to the audience) that are no longer (gestures to the audience) are here was that we had to approve layoffs. So we actually had a Board of Education that was in place and a superintendent that was in place that was talking about an expenditure of $750,000 on a program that didn't even happen when they knew full well that there was going to be a list of layoffs. There were also 525 employees in the district at that time in the district not there's 400 employees. And you know those weren't teachers between that 525 number and what we have here but that list of teachers for layoffs that were put before us in April of 2009 were all teachers and we spent the next (gestures) year and a half- whatever it was-- laying off non classroom personnel that were unnecessary. That's what was here before 2009. That's what was going on in this district in April of 2009. And no disrespect for any teachers that worked on the curriculum project before 2009 because as a business person I know that the leadership on the project is what determines the quality of the work and the Hoboken Curriculum Project that we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on prior to April of 2009 was unusable when we had a certified person in here looking at the curriculum and we have spent the last…10, 11, 12, 13….we pretty much spent the last works rewriting work that was done and once again absolutely should not be a discredit to the teachers that were working on the original project becasue the leadership is what determines whether or not what is created is usable. So this was the kind of thing that we walked in on in April of 2009….what was here when I got here were hard working teachers working in silos without strong administration behind them because their administration couldn't do what they needed them to do because they were told what to do. So, teachers working hard without materials and without…and doing the best job they possible could. I'm telling you what we were given and what has been built up in this district since 2009 has been amazing…and what I get in teachers thanking me now, thanking me for the supplies, happy because they've learned what it means to have a good administration- that they have mentors in place to help them and that's what has changed. To come up with so little experience in district and talk of nothing is being done is shameful…and to me why anyone who has been speaking like that about this district…why would they move their child into this district, it just doesn't make any sense….so I'm suspect, just like the other explosion I had if this counts as an explosion