This is one of those times when I get to write the story and be a part of it too. I'm one of about 28 people on Lewisville ISD's Strategic Design Team, which this past Wednesday and Thursday completed two full 12-hour days hashing out a very ambitious plan to transform learning in this school district.
Photo Illustration by Winston Edmondson
The team consisted of a diverse group of community members including:
- A few LISD staff - two teachers, a retired teacher and current substitute, a communications staffer, a professional development manager, the Associate Superintendent for Learning and Teaching, and the Superintendent. (Hopefully I'm not missing anyone) - The School Board President - Many Parents of children at all grade levels, and in each feeder pattern, as well as special needs - Grandparents - People without kids in the district - PTA presidents and active members - A Chamber of Commerce president - A City Council member - A Blogger - A radio host - A Lewisville High School student - Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, and everything in between - People of various races and ethnicities - Women and men - Young and old - People of various occupations, many of whom used vacation days to get off work.
The meetings were facilitated by Shannon Buerk, a professional consultant who helps school districts with things like this. She was a task master, scheduling no breaks, and holding us to tight deadlines as we worked in small groups on our issues, not pushing us in any particular direction, but taking every opportunity to check that we meant what we said, said it as succinctly and clearly as possible, agreed on it, and heard from everyone what their true thoughts were. There were no wallflowers in this. Everybody participated and spoke their mind, with Buerk occasionally keeping us honest and on track.
Beliefs So the process over the past two days has been to first get unanimous agreement on our beliefs about education. By unanimous, I mean unanimous, not consensus, and not a majority vote. Every person in the room had a veto in this, because we wanted something that we could all defend. By beliefs, I mean we worked on beliefs, not provable facts or obvious truth. These beliefs needed to be as bold as we could go-- to the point where we would be assured that some in the community would argue against them and fight us. If you're not shaking things up at least a little, then you're not doing anything.
As we hammered out these beliefs through a grueling process that took something like 8 - 10 straight hours of the first day, we at times would spend 30 minutes arguing over a single word or phrase that one or two people didn't like, or thought could be phrased better. Every word chosen was deliberate, and based on the particular shades of meaning for that word. If something seems ambiguous, it's because we meant it that way. If something seems oddly specific, we meant it that way. If something was left out, we probably agonized over that too. Part of the difficulty was in classifying ideas as either beliefs, or goals. At least one item we had at first as a belief, then later switched to a goal. If we could use two words instead of three, or one instead of two, that's what we did. We wanted them to be as simply stated as possible, and really boiled down to the essence.
The purpose of enumerating the shared beliefs was to lay the foundation for what we wanted to do and also to give some basis to anyone who might want to know why we're doing what we're doing.
So here are the beliefs we unanimously agreed on, emphasis mine:
1. Every student is uniquely capable and deserves to be challengedeach day. 2. Uninhibited learning depends on a safe, nurturing, inclusive, and flexible environment. 3. An educated citizenry is essential for equal opportunity and a prosperous society. 4. Meaningful and relevant work engages students in profound learning. 5. Critical thinking and problem solving today are necessary for students to be equipped for future challenges. 6. Genuine transformation requires disruptive innovation. 7. Education is the shared responsibility of the community.
If you read the above, and mentally repeat the sentence, stressing one of the underlined words each time, you'll get the full meaning and weight of the statement. For example, the first belief, we used the word "every" rather than most. We said uniquely capable, because we believe everyone is capable of something, and that it's unique because we all have our strengths. We used challenge, because one doesn't grow, otherwise, and we said "each day" because we don't mean we want them challenged sometimes, or once a week; we want them challenged each day. The other beliefs can be read similarly.
The Vision The next thing we did was to lay out a vision for the district. The vision needs to be an ambitious goal that represents the absolute highest hope for what the district would accomplish. It needs to be something that is so hard to achieve that you'll probably never fully get there, but you'll make it a mission to keep trying. You can't seek perfection unless you know what perfection would be.
We first individually took stabs at writing vision statements for the district. I think mine was about a 50 word sentence with lots of commas and a semicolon, with everything in it but the kitchen sink. In our small groups, we shared our personal visions with each other, and our assignment was to whittle it down to one that each group could agree on. As we talked about it, what occurred to us is that we were using different shades of the same words to describe the same basic concepts. We could use one word that would have the meaning of several.
We ended up with five or six groups unveiling their versions of the vision statement. They were remarkably similar, in that they just about all incorporated the same elements:
• Some element of personal success and outward productivity for our students • Some element of joy, fulfillment, or purpose for our students • Some element of personal choice and self-determination • Some element of having the students give back, serve, or make meaningful contributions back to society or the community.
To a person, once we talked it over, we felt like anything less than all four elements wouldn't be perfection. For instance, a student could have success, but what if he was a successful drug dealer? A student could be productive, but living without joy or success. A person could be joyful and successful, doing what they want to do, but not being a productive member of society. A student could have joy and success, and be productive and give back, and yet feel like they had no choices, and have regrets. If we were going to shoot for the moon, we wanted all of this. And we weren't content to consider any students to be an acceptable loss level. We wanted to include everyone in this.
Here's what we ended up with:
"All of our students enjoy thriving, productive lives in a future they create."
Every single word in the above was argued over. Every word carries so much meaning. "All", "Our", "Enjoy", "Thriving", "Productive", "future they create". Think about those words. I'll elaborate on two of them where there might be some ambiguity: Thriving and Productive. Thrive is like a supercharged version of personal success. Productive means both in producing value and the service or giving back to the community. Most of us wanted to explicitly put the word "serve" or "service" in there somewhere because we all believed in the element, but some thought the word had confusing connotations that implied being lowered, like a servant. Most of us felt that the word productive had some coverage of that built in, but we agreed that we would explain the word choice.
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Posted: 2011/11/7 9:27 Updated: 2011/11/7 9:37
Re: Lewisville ISD: Let the Transformation Begin
Like everything else these days, this joint venture you have here sounds more corporate than pedagogical, perhaps adopted from that professional "consultant" you all hired to take the concept of education and turn it into some business process.........give me a break !!
Quite frankly, if it took you all that long to agree on a mission statement and values then it speaks volumes concerning the competency of this leadership team and its ability to effectively enhance education itself internally.
Speaking from someone who used to teach, I grow increasingly frustrated by business people and civic politicos who wish to exploit those children's education to make money for their consulting firm or to show everyone how well the city "cares" about their education..... How well is the business world and the city going to care when those kids go out and can't find a job ??
The fact is that the quality of education in Lewisville and even in Texas is rapidly declining (regardless of what the business statistics say) and the more you all take countless hours in playing semantics and "Best Practices" games, our children are falling by the wayside. What is your little coalition going to tell schoolchildren when they (your "stakeholders") ask why others who have excelled in school still can't make it ??
Let's deal with reality here people, not corporate status quo exploitation.
Posted: 2011/11/7 10:58 Updated: 2011/11/7 11:15
Re: Lewisville ISD: Let the Transformation Begin
Got any constructive suggestions in how to better educate the children of LISD? One of my suggestions [but this would have to be to the state] is to cut the state mandated testing. It costs money to implement every time a new test comes along. I have seen TAAS, TAKS, and now the STARRS test. The teachers are panicked over the new testing because they have been told it is so much more difficult than TAKS was so, again, people are teaching to the test. The teachers feel the pressure and, therefore, the kids feel the pressure. I would prefer that kids are taught what they need to know. They can master the information and then passing any test will follow without teaching to the test.
I hear your skepticism. You've seen reform efforts before, and like me you've seen scores of politicians who think they know how to prescribe the fix for education.
This process respects the educator, because for now, we're defining the WHAT. The pedagogical comes in at the HOW stage, and the vast majority of that will be implemented by the administration, campus leadership, and teachers.
Yes, Dr. Waddell and his team could easily have done this on their own, but what they wouldn't have had is community buy-in. Since WE own the schools, it's fitting that WE get to say what it is that we want them to focus on.
You talk about kids not being able to find a job after they graduate. That's exactly what we're trying to solve. We're not in business to just graduate kids; we have to prepare them for life.
What we have TODAY is more corporate than pedagogical. We put kids on an assembly line, and attempt to standardize them into a uniform product in batches by age. We put them in orderly rows of desks and make them learn the same thing at the same time, in the same way. We drug them when they're hyper, and we squash the shit out of their creativity. We make them feel bad if they learn differently than others. What we have today is the Henry Ford model. That's what we're trying to break free from.
I would like to hear your constructive ideas for moving education forward.
Posted: 2011/11/7 18:59 Updated: 2011/11/7 19:48
Re: Lewisville ISD: Let the Transformation Begin
well one thing you don't do is stack the committee with yourself (Waddel) and your crony Penny Redell. When asking for teacher volunteers the criteria was you weren't allowed to have attended one of the community meetings. So if you were a teacher who on their own time went to the meetings because you cared, you weren't allowed onto the committee? Does that make sense to you. I hope something good comes from this but I have seens hundreds of thousands being spent on consultants, but do not see how it benefited the district BTW BYOT was and id not the answer.
Alright, so we have one commenter criticizing because Dr. Waddell didn't do this on his own, and another criticizing because he and Dr. Reddell were on the committee.
For what it's worth, I think those two needed to be there for the input they provided, and to fully understand the rationale for all of the other decisions being made. Their buy-in is crucial, since those two are going to be the ones who we are paying to make this happen. I wouldn't trade places with either of them, because this is very ambitious.
Please forward me by email any memos you've got that tell teachers they can't be on the committee if they've attended a summit meeting. I'd be interested to see that, because it doesn't sound right.
There were teachers on the committee, and probably will be on the subcommittees too. I could imagine that no matter how many or few are on these teams, there will be criticism.
We need to get back to letting the teacher's teach and make our children more responsible for their own mistakes. Today's teachers are blamed when their kids don't learn, which I think is wrong. I'm teaching these kids coming right out of high school, and they are amazed, utterly amazed when they fail their first test, and I don't curve or give them extra credit to pass. (No, not all of them fail, but quite a few do.) I expect this, and account for it in my grading. One bad grade doesn't make it impossible to pass, but it makes it REAL hard to get an A. I do this on purpose, because I feel that they need a wake-up call that their learning is THEIR responsibility. I find it VERY unfortunate that they can't learn this lesson sooner...
I warn my students from day one, and repeat it constantly right up until the first exam, and tell that they NEED to study. I tell them to study over the weekends, in groups and as much as they can daily, but they don't. Most usually wait until the night before, which is only going to work for a very SMALL percentage.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for teacher accountability, but almost EVERYONE in a department KNOWS which teachers teach, and which ones are a waste of space. I am all for getting rid of teachers who cannot teach, but good luck getting that kind of power to principals...
Not really all that jazzed about vision statements in general. In my experience they are mostly fluff and feel-good junk and the product of lots of effort and cycles that get people mildly excited for a brief period of time then are quickly abandoned and forgotten.
That being said, a well-crafted vision statement can be useful. The ones above, to me, fall into the fluff category. I’m all for the ‘students, staff, and community part’ but would add parents. Parents have more responsibility than students, staff, or community it my mind. I’m OK with ‘providing engaging and innovative experiences’ to the extent they lead to an education preparing the student to earn a living wage after 12th grade (either by trade school, college, or other means). Without stating the purpose of the engaging and innovative experiences, it feels too open ended. I may really, really like to play my guitar. It can be taught in all kinds of innovative and engaging ways. However, the vast majority of the times this will not lead to a viable means to earn a living.
We pretty much all agree with you about it preparing them for a career. Our mission is just the next step in order to get to the vision, which includes that aspect. But I can definitely see how if the mission is taken alone, without the context of it feeding into the vision, it would seem fluffy.
Maybe we should have phrased it like this:
"At Lewisville ISD, our vision of perfection is that all of our students enjoy thriving, productive lives in a future they create.
Therefore, our current mission and the next step in our journey is that students, staff, and community will design and implement a learning organization that provides engaging, innovative experiences every day."
The words "productive" and "thriving" are intended to include being in a career that not only provides for the student, but makes them happy.
I think "parents" are included in "community", but I don't have a problem with being explicit about that.
I'll be very interested to see the plans that come from the mission and goals. I have a feeling that once we start seeing these more concrete and specific actions, people might start to see this as something different.
I just clicked the 'poll' link above and didn't see entire story. This is exciting and looks promising. I, like some others I think, am a little jaded after seeing many, many business re-orgs fall flat and things just devolve back to the current state. However, the alternative is don't do anything.
There is no path that will make everyone happy. I applaud the efforts of our new super and look forward to seeing how this all plays out.
These are fun processes and can be very energizing. Other than getting participant buy-in, I am not sure of the long term value of vision and mission statements. Enron had a great vision and mission statement, for instance.
Have the consultants conducted a readiness for change assessment? That can tell you the organizations capacity for change, and a good consultant can tell you how hard integrating the change will be for the organization, its leaders, stakeholders and its people.
Posted: 2011/11/9 9:31 Updated: 2011/11/9 9:36
Re: Lewisville ISD: Let the Transformation Begin
CORPORATE, CORPORATE, CORPORATE mindset.......... enough already !!! We are talking about education here folks not about trying to run a fortune 500 corporation...
I think once everyone who wants to turn our children's education into some kind of "business" will get out of the way so that educators can actually get something done then I think that will be the first step in the right direction.
Is there a corporate "assessment" for that sentiment somewhere in HR Frank ??
Wow… For how long, approximately, has business been in the way of education? While not as involved as I used to be, it appears to me that education has historically elevated themselves above the likes of business.
There are over 27,000,000 companies in the US (http://www.census.gov/econ/smallbus.html) the overwhelming majority of which are not fortune 500 companies with 7 figure CEOs. The people who start, run, and excel in business have tremendous ideas and creativity. Plus, with only the rarest of exceptions, they learned something from someone. How were they able to take what they learned and turn it into success while others have not? I’m unclear as to why we would not want to look to people like these for solutions in education.
In fairness, I suppose it’s a two way street. When I see random, over-credentialed, educators from <insert college here> who have never worked outside of academia in their life lecturing on how to run businesses, I’m skeptical. Perhaps I need to take my own advice…
Posted: 2011/11/9 21:04 Updated: 2011/11/9 22:00
Re: Lewisville ISD: Let the Transformation Begin
Actually, over the past decade since Bush was in office we have seen businesses and corporate America totally infiltrate every aspect of our lives from education to churches and from non-profits to local organizations.
Have a look at any of these entities and you will usually find an "esteemed" list of directors complete with their corporate resumes, a corporate sponsor list and a list of organizational processes which reflect some "Best Practices" model they learned at some HR seminar designed to increase their bottom line. They even will have the same vocabulary (textbook) used in most corporations.
From my experience locally, I have seen ISDs spend more time focusing on establishing business partnerships with suppliers so that the school's parents can contribute to their bottom line for school supplies and teaching materials mandated by the school, regardless if they overcharge them or not. And, as seen above, school systems will hire these "Business Consultants" in an effort to help them all be the best and the most popular, thus adding to the school's bottom line, regardless of if those kids learn anything or not.
So Mr. Kelly, you are correct in your observation. Those qualified in the academia sector should stay in the academia sector while those in the business world should stay there and stop trying to exploit education, religion, charity and any other organization for their own self business interest just because they couldn't make it in corporate America.......
I just don't see how you can look at this process and decide that it's "corporate". Public education is public sector and by its nature operates quite differently than business. There is NO profit motive. It is entirely socialistic, and I'm fine with that. We can have capitalism in this country without handing over every last scrap of public function to them. I have never been the type to believe that business automatically knows best. On the contrary, I think a lot of things currently being outsourced to private companies could be taken back in-house and done a lot more efficiently by government.
But that's for another argument, another day...
The parallel here is that with over 5,000 employees, the school district shares a commonality with many businesses in that it has employees, layers of management, processes, and the need to manage change. As we're seeing already, there will be some push-back from some employees who feel threatened that things are changing. There was backlash from traditional old-style teachers who can't handle the idea that some students are bringing technology. In order to get that many employees on the same page and pushing in the same direction, you need to have some guiding principles, and you need to be able to articulate them and defend them.
One major difference between LISD as a public institution, and Widgets, Inc., is that Widgets Inc. is accountable to shareholders only, and will have a meeting once a year for an hour or two where shareholders can come and see who the insiders have preordained as the board of directors. The management team of Widgets Inc., will set the vision and mission, and deal with everything internally. Lewisville ISD is accountable by law to all of the citizens. It holds board meetings in public, and is subject to open meetings and open records laws. Its employees are held to higher standards. LISD has gone the extra mile in inviting the community and all the stakeholders to the table to set the course.
They held 6 strategic design summits that were widely publicized, including here on this blog. Those were attended by some 1,500 people, each of which had the opportunity to share their thoughts. All of them are on video for anyone to see. They then sent out surveys and got some 1,500 responses, including open-ended input. Citizens, parents, teachers, and students were all included. From there, focus groups were held to get even more input from teachers, students, and parents.
I just don't see how this comes close to being "corporate". We are not looking to privatize our schools. We do have contractors and consultants that provide services to the district, but that's the way it goes. We can't necessarily hire all the specialties that we use in the district, especially for things that are highly specialized like strategic design for school districts. I suppose you could find some CEO types out there, but that's not what LISD went for. They hired a former teacher, administrator, and assistant superintendent of a Texas school who has worked with tons of other school districts.
So, what's your beef? What is it about this that is making you so angry? Are you of the opinion that the current system was good enough to keep running as-is? Given that our budgets keep getting cut by the state year after year, I didn't see that as an option. Evolve or die, is how I view it.
There's no beef. I'm just raising the point that there appears to be excessive corporate ideology which is influencing the direction of this new educational venture you all are doing, and I really don't think that you who are fostering that ideology are even aware that you are doing it........
You should hear yourself and a few other posters. You constantly use terms such as "stakeholders, assessment, consultants, management processes, strategic design, surveys, focus groups, contractors, specialties" all of which scream CORPORATE brainwashing and the "business" way of going about doing things both of which have no place in our education system.
No, the current system is not working, but it will work a lot less than it is if you all continue to introduce this corporate ideology and processes into an education system which is already broken. I mean, we saw what happened when corporate America stuck its nose into things where it had no business, we ended up with an unrepairable economy !! So again, I say leave the "boardroom" out of the classroom !!
Budgets being cut ?? Or rather state funds being allocated to the wrong projects for the wrong reasons all with Rick Perry's smiling seal of approval.
So by your statement "evolve or die" are you implying that those citizens who do not change and follow the "corporate" status quo in everything they do then they will be kicked by the wayside and blackballed so that they eventually go away ??
By "evolve or die", I'm referring to the organization, and its relevance.
Regarding my use of "corporate" terms, I suppose I'm guilty of that, given that my degree is in management. I don't see why we should have to define a separate vocabulary for those pieces of the educational system that have an analogue in the business world though. Stakeholders are stakeholders, assessment is assessment, and all the rest.
It can easily be called systems engineering which can be applied to any system. I worked on a contract at one point [and this is a business example of systems engineering so steel yourself!] that involved 5 large contractors that had been competitors. For the sake of brevity, let's just say that they all had different ways of doing things and some of the contractors didn't want to change. I helped document how each department THOUGHT that things worked for specific processes and found ways to make the process simpler and more efficient by taking out duplication of effort, the production of paperwork that no one used, etc. I documented it in procedures and taught a training class to everyone involved in the processes. Our customer was more satisfied with the results and communication increased among the contractors. The workers actually appreciated the process after all was said and done. All that this group that Steve is involved in is trying to do is get similar results through analysis and systems engineering for the school district. You start with the vision of where you want things to be, write a mission statement that supports the vision and then define goals and objectives that can be tracked and quantified to see if things are working correctly. In the best of all possible worlds, you would do this at the beginning of an organization but very few people have that opportunity. It is usually a process to fix a broken system. I don't see the problem with applying this to the school district. As Steve stated, LISD is a large entity and it needs to function efficiently and effectively as it serves its "customers" [I don't like the word stakeholder either]. Define who your customer is, define what they need, and provide it in the best way possible. Pretty straightforward.
So we can have discussions if my posts agree with your ideas but you call me a troll if I try to point out an actual experience [not from a corporate textbook] that worked that can easily be transferred to any system. Very sad! Maybe that is the reason LISD is in the mess that it is in. They only listen to what they agree with and disregard the rest.
I agree with they listen to what they want to hear. They have a plan already and are just using this as a set up to rubber stamp it. The board didn't listen to the majority of LHS parents that were against the 9th/10th campus plan remember?
Just a reminder...LISD voters passed the bond that allowed the 9th/10th grade campus to be built so either the majority of LHS parents didn't vote it down or there is no majority of LHS parents that disagree with the building of the campus.
Posted: 2011/11/27 3:37 Updated: 2011/11/27 12:31
Re: Lewisville ISD: Let the Transformation Begin
Thanks for the reminder, but only two thousand voters voted for it and almost as many voted against it. Hardly a resounding expression of approval. There are something like 165,000 registered voters in LISD, so the turnout was horrible. Clearly, the three quarter billion dollar bond package passed only because of the promise of the Marcus stadium. I think most people used to think that the Board acted in the best interest of all the students. After the three campus fiasco, I think the assumption changed and that is why there was such turnover on the Board.
The key phrase is "almost as many" - it doesn't matter what the margin was, it passed. And yes, I agree that Lewisville [the city] has very poor voter turn out but, if there were so many people against the campus, why didn't they turn out to vote? Because they don't care is my guess.
Now that the three campuses exist, why don't we stop whining and posting on here how wrong it was and work together to make what is work? That seems much healthier than hanging on to the past. I would hate to think, on the other hand, that there are parents and teachers that want to see the three campuses fail so much that they will work in that direction but I get that gist from some of the people that post on here. It seems that some would rather say "I told you so" than to ask "How may I help?"
Unless I can drive a transfer bus all day, I don't see how I can help make the pain of this ill-conceived idea any better. I am not a whiner -- I like to think of myself as one who silently brings about change by pointing out decisions that should have never been made and that CAN be undone.
My idea of helping the STUDENTS in Lewisville is to hope that someone sees the light and realizes this CANNOT work for the kids. Now that we have a new administration and a majority of new Board members, I will continue to try to stop LISD from doing this to Lewisville kids. Some people just don't like to be challenged...
Put your own kid on a transfer bus for an hour to an hour and a half during each school day -- you may turn out to be a whiner, too!
My understanding is that there were multiple initiatives included in the bond package and that voters had to accept the entire package or none of it. Included in the package was the Marcus High School football stadium. Consequently, we don't know if those voting in favor of the bond package were voting for the stadium, the 9th/10th grade campus or both. It would have been better to split the two items so that voters could have chosen which item or items they wanted their bond money to go towards. The way the bond initiative was structured you can't say those voting for it were actually supporting the 9th/10th grade campus or not.
That's right. Trustee Amber Fulton had tried in vain to get Dr. Roy to remove the athletic facilities and put them in their own ballot item.
When I voted against the bond package, I did so on two grounds: 1. Athletic facilities were over the top with cost. We didn't need all of that. 2. In general, cost per square foot was too high, I thought.
It wasn't on my radar back then to question whether 9th/10th centers were a good idea, so I had no opinion one way or the other.
My hope by voting against, was that the board would come back with a more modest and separated proposal in the following year.
It's funny comparing the bond elections with the tax rate election though: When you ask people "do you want us to spend more?" they usually say yes. When you ask them if it's okay to tax them more, well that's different.
You don't really want a solution. You just want to poke holes in anything "business" that might actually help improve education. You sound like an educator that doesn't believe anyone could have a solution other than educators. Maybe it is time to think out of the box because what the educators have been doing apparently hasn't been working. Everyone can work together, which is what Steve's group is doing, for the greater good.
Another part of this process will be the torpedoing of the 9th grade centers for FM and Marcus, making Harmon a four year "Lewisville South" high school, and shifting attendance zones from FM to Lewisville South and Marcus to LHS. This has been the plan of certain board members since their election in 2010 on a "Lewisville First" platform of division.
I think the ship has already sailed for the 9th/10th centers in Lewisville. The district will be collecting metrics over the coming years to measure the success of the 9/10 concept here, and it could be revisited later.
Rumors do get started from time to time about attendance zones being shifted, but I haven't heard serious talk about that. Usually this happens right around election time when someone feels the need to rile up FM parents who are scared to death that their children might have to go to a school with a substantial minority population. I would say though, that if Harmon does become a 4 year campus, then it would follow that you would need to zone some of the surrounding FM neighborhoods to it for convenience and cost-effectiveness. I wouldn't want to be a board member if and when that happens.
My thought is that we need to gradually just do away with the boundaries and allow open enrollment. But to do so, each campus would have to have the programs and specialties necessary to draw enough students. The effect could not be to further concentrate minorities, or it wouldn't fly.
I love that you think open enrollment in such a diverse school district would make all of the schools stronger but I strongly feel that this would result in "white flight" to get away from the heavy minority influence in the Lewisville schools. Do I have proof of that? No, but I am allowed to look at society and see that many people would prefer that their children not go to school in Title 1 schools with a focus on the heavy concentration of ESL students.
I share your concerns. So although I want to get to open enrollment, I would not pull the trigger on it until we had things in place to prevent that or counter-balance it. Those things would be reasonable transportation options for the economically disadvantaged, differentiation of program concentration (magnet concept), equity of facilities and opportunity. Just as there may be irrational reasons for some parents to move their kids out, there need to be rational reasons to move their kids in. Every school needs to have its selling points. And in the end, we have to keep enrollment balanced, so if there are massive moves away from one or towards another, it would have to be solved by limits and lotteries, then a focus on figuring out why, and correcting the imbalance.
The whole white flight thing reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book "The Sneeches", where these yellow bird-like creatures segregated themselves based on whether or not they had a green star on their bellies. The non-starred sneeches were shunned, and eventually were duped into paying for stars, which then caused the starred sneeches to remove their stars, and the cycle continued until they didn't know who was who.
It is happening now. I know of several(4)families that have moved from the east side due to the schools. I know of 3 families that are now home schooling due to the state of schools. Look at the current diversity measures and you can see that several schools in Lewisville have completely changed demographics in the past 10 years.
What is the result? LHS offers less Advanced Placement classes than the other high schools. LHS does not offer dual credit college /high school classes.
Posted: 2011/11/27 0:25 Updated: 2011/11/27 0:52
Re: White flight with open enrollment
I, also, know of several families who have left the east side for the west or the district as whole because of the Harmon situation. I would not call this white flight as much as I would socio-economic flight. One of the families I know of is Hispanic. As for LHS not offering as many AP courses as the rest of the schools, I'm not too sure of that. It offers almost everything that the college board has. If not, it's because there is a lack of student interest in that subject or the teacher is not available. None of the schools offer AP Italian or Japanese. Unless I am misinformed, the dual credit program is something that the district as a whole is looking at and is currently at no High Schools in LISD. LHS is a great school and has a lot of great, experienced and dedicated teachers. Unfortunately the district because of the budget costs are trying to get rid of them...not only at LHS but throughout the district.
Posted: 2011/11/27 3:29 Updated: 2011/11/27 12:33
Re: White flight with open enrollment
When Flower Mound High School opened back in the 90's, Forestwood Middle School was taken out of the LHS attendance zone and put in the FM attendance zone. FMHS opened at 87% or so Caucasian, so the areas taken out of the LHS attendance zone were almost exclusively white. There could have been more effort made to provide socio-economic and racial diversity, but there wasn't. The change in demographics at LHS since that time is very telling, and must have been forseen by district officials who implemented those boundaries (some of whom I am told moved out of the LHS zone after FMHS opened). I find it interesting that in drawing the lines for the two LHS 9/10 campuses last year, LISD tried to evenly divide the number of economically disadvantaged and English as a Second Language students rather than using middle school boundaries. I guess somebody wants to insure that the one diverse high school in the western side of the district stays equally diverse among its campuses. Where were those concerns 10 years ago. Now we have three high schools within a few miles of each other that are DRASTICALLY different in terms of demographics. I don't like how that was cultivated by LISD over the years.
If it makes you feel better to call it socio-economic flight then call it that but you need to look and see who the lower socio-economic people in Lewisville are predominantly. They are Hispanic and, in particular, the illegal Hispanics. And, by the way, going west of I-35 isn't going to get you away from them. Parkway ES and Hedrick MS have a large number of ESL students that are Hispanic. Parkway is now a Title 1 school and is dual-language for the ESL kids I beleive. Hedrick is across the street from subsidized apartments so, as you can see, moving west in Lewisville isn't the answer.
I am very sure of the lower number of AP classes. My teen wants to take AP Physics "C" (year long class) but LHS only offers A and B. The counselor at LHS told us he can take it at FM or Marcus, but we are responsible for transportation.
I talked to the admittance counselor at NCTC, and she said that the LHS Principal wants to push Pre AP and AP classes in place of dual credit. It is offered at FM and Marcus on campus, but not LHS. Once again, he can take them at these campuses but we are responsible for transportation.
In my teens Junior and Senior year, we are looking at taking 2-3 classes off campus because they are not offered at LHS.
Well I find that unacceptable. If Burns is pushing the PAP and AP instead of Dual credit, he should at least offer the AP Physics C. It could be that not enough students have requested it but if is not on the course selection card then I bet that many are uninformed that it even exists. But that's besides the point. If it's offered at MHS and FHS, it should be offered at LHS. If enough parents are vocal about this,hopefully something will change. BTW schools love to have kids enrolled in AP classes because a lot of these state and national rankings weigh that heavily in their considerations. It's not how well the kids do on the test but rather the percentage of the student population that takes an AP Test.
Posted: 2011/11/29 6:38 Updated: 2011/11/29 8:27
Re: White flight with open enrollment
The Colony HS also offer AP Physics C. I don't know if Hebron does or not.
Posted: 2011/11/25 23:17 Updated: 2011/11/26 0:17
Re: District posts survey data and summaries
If the 3 campus model is not working, why not change it now? Make the Harmon campus a 6th high school. It could be smaller, a 3A or 4A enrollment, and be a magnet school. LHS could go back to a 2 campus model. It may end up being 4A, but I do not see that as a negative.
You are seriously misinformed. Your "Lewisville First" categorization is incorrect -- they simply sought to correct the results of over a decade of having no Lewisville residents on the Board or in senior administration. In the "I told you so" department: The third campus is a stupid idea, and some kids are now on transfer buses for over an hour a day!!! This "smaller learning community idea" (not mocking it, just mentioning it) has resulted in having kids carted all over town and missing out on INSTRUCTIONAL time. Some kids are having to visit three campuses each day or give up certain classes and activities so they don't have to transfer so much. Three campuses located so far apart is beyond ridiculous. The only way that this could have been planned by reasonably sane people is if it was to be only a short term solution. I don't want the attendance zones shifted, but the writing is on the wall. I have heard that western Flower Mound views eastern Flower Mound very unfavorably (sort of like FM views LV????), so maybe this rezoning idea is coming from western Flower Mound -- not Lewisville. By the way, some of the most vocal Lewisville residents who spoke out against the third LHS campus WANT ninth grade centers at FMHS and MHS. All along, they pointed out that MHS and FMHS were far more overcrowded than LHS and should have their ninth grade centers built before a third LHS campus was built, all to no avail. Now many of those who refused to listen to reason are now gone from the Board.
I don't have an opinion about the Harmon 9/10 campus as a concept. But make no mistake that for years LHS had its share of board representation and Marcus and The Colony were second class citizens during that time. The land behind Marcus that is now homes was owned by LISD at one point but was flipped because of unclear reasons. This land would have allowed plenty of room for expansion at Marcus and made the satellite land purchase to the Northwest unecessary. So please don't preach to me about I told you. The LISD board has taken an uncomfortable turn toward a divisive policy of us vs them and the haves vs the have nots. This is not in the best interest of any of the district's students, LV, FM or otherwise.
Posted: 2011/11/25 1:01 Updated: 2011/11/25 12:02
Re: District posts survey data and summaries
Of course it is far less "divisive" to have one area of the district control over half the Board, like Highland Village and FM used to. Unfortunately, while that may have resulted in frequent unanimous votes of the Board, it was not in the best interest of the unrepresented parts of the district. I'd rather have some degree of division (for instance, I totally support single member districts) than have one area of the district call all the shots. Every school in this district should have equal representation. That is the only way that we will have fair treatment for all.
The "I told you so" was about the three LHS campuses all over town. Many of us knew it would be a disaster, and from what I am hearing from affected students and their parents, it is!
By the way, there are quite a few "have nots" in FM and HV, and quite a few "haves" in Lewisville, despite the common perception, so this is not about class warfare. Ultimately, does the "have" or "have not" status even matter? All kids deserve the same opportunity. FM and HV citizens pass through LV every day, so they SHOULD care about what opportunities LV kids are getting. Whether, FM and HV parents know it or not, their kids even socialize on occasion with LV kids (Gasp!). We are all in this together, like it or not.
All this talk of "us versus them" seems to be a scare tactic designed to get voters in FM and HV to be scared of LV candidates. Again. Can I hear an example of how this Board has slighted anyone since two Lewisville candidates were elected?
It is not only the parents and students who think it's a disaster but many teachers at LHS Main as well. There is a very big lack of coordination and communication between the campuses. Basically, Harmon and Killough do what they want, and if LHS Main doesn't like it...then tough! Many of us feel this is a set up to stop the bussing between campuses.
As to the haves and have nots in LV and FM, I agree with you there. .But the US vs. them thing does exist. You should hear the misperceptions FM and Marcus teachers have of LV.
Also, the "supposed " Harmon as a 6th HS scenario would place the higher income Lewisville South with the Lower Income Flower Mound West. With that Scenario LHS Main and Killough would basically be as it was and even take in some Marcus students.
Posted: 2011/11/25 1:15 Updated: 2011/11/25 12:03
Re: District posts survey data and summaries
FM and Marcus parents should just show up and tell the Board to use the bond money as promised, assuming that those parents want ninth grade centers. When we fought against the third LHS campus, everyone at LISD kept citing the 2000 voters who supported the bond package as though the election made the third campus a mandate from on high. They kept saying that it had to be done because the voters had spoken, even though the bonds were general obligation bonds. Now, by the administration's attempts to change the "mandate" as it relates to MHS and FMHS, we are seeing that what you think you are getting can almost always be changed. My thought has always been that FMHS and MHS need ninth grade centers because they have been so successful at other schools. I never thought it was fair to have several different configurations in LISD high schools. Good luck to FMHS and MHS -- I really hope you get what you want.
You are so wrong on this. No one I know in LHS wants this scenario. This is exactly what we (many residents of Lewisville) have been warning about. We warned that Harmon was a Trojan Horse. I mean look at where the building is. It's right across the road from a FM neighborhood. The nearest homes to it are in FM and not LV.
We didn't want the 3rd campus. Lewisville voted against the Bond issue. The bond issue won because LISD unethically combined it with the acceptance of a stadium for Marcus. Having 3 campuses make LHS weaker but having a 6th HS will make it even worse. It would effectively take a huge chunk of our higher income neighborhoods. We never wanted Marcus's and FM's 9th grade centers torpedoed, in fact we said they should get one instead of Harmon being built
Dick Olin deserved to get canned and not reassigned. It just shows how there is a discrepancy on how coaches are treated as opposed to teachers. Although LISD denied there was any investigation into DO's dismissal to Steve, it in fact was going on at the same time it was investigating the assistant Girls Wrestling Coach/Football Coach. Both coaches have been "reassigned" within the district. The wrestling coach who had berated and swore at a student was transferred to Hebron. Both will not have their contracts renewed but will receive the same salary and benefits. What kind of message does that send to our children about "bullying"? Remember what was blogged about corporate culture!
PS. Steve, thanks for all you do but ifyou're on this transformation committee how can you trust a thing you're being told? Permetti certainly seems to have misled you on the Dick Olin matter.
Just to clarify something about the coaches getting reassigned: according to a conversation I had with Permetti, when a coach gets reassigned, they are paid based on the position they move into. So if a coach like Olin was earning $108,550 then they would move down to the regular teacher salary if that is the position they take. So if they had 28 years of experience, they would make about $63,162, which is a substantial hit. What makes the difference is the stipend. They receive a stipend for coaching, and that makes up the competitive part of the salary. Of course that doesn't square with the stipend documents we got last year, so I'm not positive that I'm getting the right answer on that.
My take is that a huge reduction in salary like that is probably enough to make the person leave, without having to go through the legal hassle and potential liability of firing them. I don't understand that process, or the protections that school district employees have, so for all I know that could be the easiest way to handle it.
I agree with you that the message it sends is that of a double-standard. Especially when we've had some zero-tolerance policies (de-facto and de-jure) that were unfairly harsh on students who didn't hurt anyone, yet were sent to alternate campuses with no transportation, or put into the juvenile justice system for minor infractions.
I was told that there was an investigation, but that Olin wasn't the primary target. I was told that Olin was still the coach, but that the investigation would lead wherever it was going, and that it was nearly done, and that they would let me know the results. The news article in the Leader was the first I heard, so yes - I'm disappointed in the district for dropping the ball on the communication.
As for trust, that is a work in progress. I understand that the district has to keep certain things confidential, but I do feel like I have been unnecessarily misled or excluded on occasion. I try not to take it personally, but rather just to keep working on making things better. Trust will be whatever it will be from month to month, but at some point I just have to take my chances and participate, since the alternative is no better.
I do think that we have a superintendent who is a straight-shooter.
Hopefully I am wrong but if Waddell is such a straight shooter then ask him about the situation and why he chose to postpone announcing Olin's reassignment until Thanksgiving. That's not a coincidence and that's not shooting straight. It's obvious LISD didn't want to go into details about the reassignment. No reasons were given.It is certainly curious that A Head Football coaches stipend is not on the spreadsheet. Also with the money situation..I bet that's all been figured out and Olin will resign/or retire from LISD and receive the Incentive package the board just passed. They want Olin out but quietly. Yes, certain things need to be kept confidential but there has to be a reason for the reassignment. In the news article nothing but glowing praise was said. It appears that Dick Olin is going to leave us like he came...with a nod and a wink from the administration.
I would be a little surprised if Waddell were personally wrapped up in it. Sounds like Monday I'll have to make some phone calls and maybe put in an open records request.
I'll just say that I've not seen Olin's contract, but it's possible that he's got some kind of golden parachute put in place by the previous administration.
Posted: 2011/11/29 6:50 Updated: 2011/11/29 8:28
Re: District posts survey data and summaries
An assistant fb coach getting reassigned and a head fb coach/athletic coordinator getting reassigned are different. A head fb coach/athletic coordinator is considered an administrator, they don't get an extra stipend for coaching, the ridiculous $100000+ they receive is their normal salary. They don't get extra days, they are on a longer contract. Usually they aren't reassigned to be teachers, they are moved into an admin spot somewhere else in the district, athletics, special services, whatever. An assistant coach that is reassigned is usually moved to another school and loses their stipend, moving them down to teacher's salary.
Although I get the frustration regarding the 9th and 10th grade schools, that's not really what this strategic plan is about. Everyone should take a look at the information provided in Steve's link. There are obviously going to be some flaws with any sort of survey, but here are some personal observations after looking at the data briefly:
In the initial survey, it might have made more sense to allow people to select only one option, and the "Community Member" section would have been some kind of "other". I think a number of people didn't quite know what it was asking for and didn't know that the final option was kind of a catch-all for people who didn't fall into the other categories.
Only 9 students took the survey, which shows me that though the focus groups may have some better student involvement, the survey really didn't.
People want something different, but they don't really know what they want. The answers are all over the place, and there are countless "other" answers. In some ways, that's good, because people who wrote down a different answer of their own at least took the time to think it through.
Plenty of people seem to think they want teachers to be "facilitators", but I think that's because that word is very trendy right now. Nobody ever just "does" something now; they "facilitate" the interaction between two things. But "facilitate" has different definitions, even between different reputable sources. Many of those definitions simply mean "make something easier", and that doesn't seem to be what people want.
One of the few trends of the study was that people want students to learn how to solve problems rather than repeat facts and figures. Fair enough, but we should know the "just regurgitate answers back to me" phenomenon is not a new one, nor has it come up with the advent of standardized testing, as many assume. This Harvard entrance exam (PDF) from 1899 shows that that type of learning is something that has pervaded our education system for a long time.
The consulting group deserves plenty of credit for getting this many people involved. When I came to the original meeting for the pitch for this program, Shannon confidently said that she'd have hundreds of people showing up to participate in this stuff, all while looking at a board meeting with exactly three non-LISD employees in attendance. But they've done that so far, much to my pleasant surprise, and that's not easy. Many people have complained that they haven't had much of a say in past issues in this district, and I think the board is trying to make a legitimate effort to reach out. -BC
The Harvard exam is interesting, but when I look at it, I think two things:
1) No way could I pass this. Interesting how it focused on the classical languages. I'd come closest on the math parts, but even that has mostly faded away and been replaced with thoughts of how I'd use a computer to get the answers.
2) It still doesn't address the real problem-solving that some are looking for. Yes, it has "problems" for the student to work out, but it's not the type of real-world multifaceted unstructured problems that we tend to face on the job.