Archive for March, 2012

Is the Manassas School Board’s new budget a cynical attempt to buy the teacher vote or good governance?

“Students, One More Little Test From Central Office”

One More Little Test Adopted By MCPS


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Newly elected Manassas GOP Chairman Steve Thomas recently challenged me and this forum on the issue of open access:

“Now here’s a question for you: Will you give “equal time” to all of the GOP candidates, as well as Ms. Richie-Folks on your blog, or is access only for those candidates you support?”

In response, we would like to announce The Steve Thomas Invitational for ALL current Manassas candidates for Public Office. The blog will provide a seperate thread to each candidate who wishes to post a summary or article about their candidacy. Hopefully, they will state their positions on the issues they consider important for Manassas and why they deserve to be elected to public office.

Some candidates have already done so on this blog, now in response to the new GOP Chairman we are OPENLY soliciting the participation of the other candidates on the May 1st ballot.

Since this was Steve’s idea, I think it is only fair to give the MGOP first crack at taking advantage of the open access that their Chairman has won for them on an open forum. Since Ian Lovejoy and Jon Way have already posted on this blog that would leave … Les Grand pas de deux Councilman Mark Wolfe and Mayor Hal Parrish.

Gentlemen your Chairman has set the stage…

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It’s hard to imagine a better description of what the Manassas School System is in need of than a Quality Improvement Manager. Ilka Chavez, a professional Quality Improvement Manager is running for the Manasas City School Board, below is a brief introduction she was kind enough to send to this blog.

Dear Family, Friends and Neighbors,

As you may know, I am bidding for a seat on the Manassas City School Board. I am asking for your vote and support on this latest call to serve my community.

I am a 17-year resident of Manassas City and the parent of two children who have received their educations through Manassas City schools. When we moved here, our daughter Gabrielle was beginning school and the great public school system was one of the primary reasons my husband Rudy and I chose the city as our new home. We have not been disappointed. Today, Gabrielle is a college senior and our son Rodolfo Jr. is in 10th grade at Osbourn High School.

As a parent, and as a citizen who wants to make sure every child receives the skills they need to succeed in life, I have served five area schools—Jennie Dean and Haydon elementary schools, Mayfield Intermediate School, Grace E. Metz Middle School and Osbourn. I have also extended service to the schools through active community and church involvement.  I believe that involved parents help to create rich learning experiences for every child—not just their own.
But involved parents, dedicated educators and students can’t do this work alone. All of us must work together to create strong community-based partnerships dedicated to making the Manassas City school system as strong as it can be.

The City of Manassas School Board faces critical decisions in the year ahead, including:

·         Recruiting and hiring a new school superintendent,
·         Continuous improvement of our schools
·         Improving staff morale within tight budgetary constraints
·         Fostering stronger relationships with the community and the City Council.

My extensive experience in the public sector, coupled with my in-depth knowledge of policy and decision making processes, provide me with the critical skills necessary to assist the Board determine the most effective and efficient decisions. As an elected member of the School Board, I will:

·  Leverage partnerships between parents, teachers, students, administrators and business.
· Develop communications tools that will ensure everyone who cares about the education of our children has the information they need to take action.
· Work to identify tools for at-risk children and ensure sustained efforts are implemented throughout their education.
· Establish rational budget priorities and find ways to do more within our current fiscal environment.

Our students, teachers, schools and community deserve the best, and our great city deserves a school with skilled and experienced leaders who are committed to creating positive change. As a member of the school board – serving as your representative—I will be a tireless advocate, dedicated to making our entire school system stronger— today and tomorrow. I ask for your support and request that you tell your families, neighbors and friends to vote for me on May 1.

To learn more about my campaign and how you can help please visit me at www.facebook.com/Vote4IlkaChavez or www.ilkachavez.com .

Thank you for your support.

Ilka V. Chavez Candidate for Manassas City School Board

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On this St. Patrick’s Day a lesson from Calvin Coolidge to Republicans, Democrats and Independents on a forgotten component concerning immigration: Meritocracy.

And thanks to all viewers and contributors for pushing this Manassas open forum over 25,000 views in a little over 3 1/2 months.

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Who blew down the flag poles on Gaudencio Fernandez’ Liberty Street property?  Manassas Police based on surveilance cameras have identified their main   suspect.

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By Charles Sutherland

Why is Kermit Dance on the School Board?  Many say not to promote education for students or to help teachers, but to expand the local welfare system and to promote himself and a popular legacy. But, what are the facts?

Wouldn’t you like to believe that a member of the School Board would respect the opinion of teachers?  Not Kermit Dance.  According to various reports from teachers in Manassas, Kermit Dance brags that he doesn’t need the support of teachers to remain on the School Board.  In fact, Kermit Dance has a conspicuous contempt for teachers… the people we have entrusted to educate our children.

In addition, at a recent School Board session in ‘the trailer’ teachers quote him as saying (referring to the recent teacher survey, the Staff Climate Questionaire), “Look at the limitations of the survey; it’s one teacher’s perspective.  Don’t read too much into one person’s opinion.” To Mr. Dance, the opinion of teachers in a School Board-sponsored teacher survey is irrelevant…?  That’s bizarre.

And, Dance further asserted, “Teachers need to understand that it’s not a democracy.  If teachers don’t embrace programs, then we have to do a better job of convincing them.” In Mr. Dance’s view, was the purpose of this teachers’ survey to elicit the opinions of teachers to learn from them, or to ascertain their views in order to suppress them?

AND, finally, how did Kermit Dance summarize his views on how the School Board should relate to the City’s teachers?  In one demeaning phrase: “Old dogs can be taught new tricks.”

So, Mr. Dance thinks teachers are “old dogs” that he and his colleagues on the School Board can compel to learn his tricks. What a display of contempt for those who are educating our children!

Why such a reaction from someone who was once a teacher himself?  (We don‘t know how good of a teacher…) As in the Greek tragedies where people rise to power and fame, he has become afflicted with ‘hubris,’ an arrogant pride of political power.  Having achieved a modicum of political authority, instead of championing his former colleagues, he has now chosen to suppress those whom he would regard as his subordinates.

So what does Kermit Dance stand for?  At a School Board meeting on March 6, Ms. Cecily Anthony, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, proposed an $83,000 program to give away…that’s right ‘give away’… food this summer—not just to students, but (Ms. Anthony’s own words) “to anyone from the public,” and (Ms. Anthony continues) “we don’t insist on any ID.”

At first, I thought this was some kind of a joke.  Then, Art Bushnell shook his head and asked, “Why are we doing this? This is not a school program.”

Characteristically, Kermit Dance took the stage, and replied tendentiously, “Well, I like it!”

Wow!  He has become so arrogant that he now publicly admits that he “likes” giving away taxpayer money for something which is not even part of education.  What could be a more brazen example of how Mr. Dance has helped turn the Manassas school system into a city welfare organization!

To be efficient, why doesn’t Mr. Dance just stand in the school yards during the summer and hand out taxpayer money?  At least that way the school system won’t incur the cost of cooking food and distributing it.  He could even do a few pirouettes with those to whom he gives the money… another way to get the applause he seeks.

What other financial pirouettes can Mr. Dance perform?  Well, when it was revealed at this meeting that the school lunch program may end up with a surplus this year, did he see this as an opportunity to maintain a reserve in case there is a shortfall next year?  Of course not!  He declared, “If we end up making money, let’s find a way to give it to the students.”  The operative word is “give.” Kermit Dance loves to “give” away taxpayer money.  (By the way, over 60% of the students receive free or subsidized lunches and breakfasts already.  So, apparently Mr. Dance now wants us parents who actually pay for lunches to pay the other students to eat their free food.)

Of course, the big “give” he wants from the taxpayers is for a new building named after him.  Without any feasibility study as to the costs, needs, or designs of a new school and related grounds, he promotes the construction of a new building for Baldwin.  Since he has a publically demonstrated disdain for teachers, he apparently hopes this will buy him votes from the Baldwin faculty and staff, and from the contiguous property owners whose real estate values could rise…and, of course, the mayor’s real estate developer friends in the City’s ‘old boy network’ –  once again at taxpayer expense.   Apparently hoping that the building will be named after him, one might say that he has “an edifice complex.”

But while spending his time planning how to distribute other people’s money, how has he performed his actual responsibilities for which he was elected?  Did he dedicate any energy to terminate Ms. Beth Dunman-Jones, the Director of Special Ed who was arrested for a DUI?   No. On the contrary:   Apparently not even phased by her publicized mug shot, he ‘seconded’ a motion of the Board to retain her employment!  By the standards of Mr. Dance and this School Board, apparently a DUI is some kind of official credential and Ms. Dunman-Jones is a paragon of moral virtue for Manassas students to emulate on weekends when they drive (the students already have jokes about her…).  On behalf of teen-age parents, thanks, Mr. Dance.

Speaking of Special Ed: at the January 9, 2011 public meeting he erroneously stated (his exact words, which shocked many listeners), “We are more poor than seven years ago, and we have kids disabled that other localities do not have.”  (Oh, as clarification: it is both Mr. Dance’s misstatement of the actual facts regarding our City’s ‘Special Ed’ kids— as well as his faulty diction – that are “erroneous.”) And part of the reason “We are more poor…” is because of Mr. Dance’s profligate welfare mentality.

Finally…well not really finally, but next…  Although the School Board is blissfully ignorant of the matter, people who are genuinely concerned with education in the City are aware that the City’s teachers (and the students) are oppressed by various curriculum and testing mandates imposed by Deputy Superintendent Michaelene Meyer.  Accused of possessing the stereotypically weak ego of a bureaucratic bully, Ms. Meyer apparently believes that her official governmental title enables her to assiduously avoid teachers and what they say.  Hence, she does not condescend to consult the teaching community or allow their input on issues which directly affect teaching methods, teaching tools, testing … or the students.

How does Mr. Dance, a former teacher, feel about this?   Apparently gratified that Ms. Meyer obviously shares Mr. Dance’s disrespectful attitude that these teachers are “old dogs” and should be “taught new tricks” – “tricks” hastily (and expensively) mandated by Ms. Meyer, regardless of their value as didactic tools of education.  So Mr. Dance and Ms. Meyer dance their pas de deux, a duet of promiscuous power, in their own foggy aurora of personal fantasy.  Meanwhile, the teachers struggle to educate their (our) students, and the students spend weeks and weeks every year taking tests and learning material which the City’s teachers strenuously oppose.  Doesn’t anyone in the school hierarchy care what teachers think?

[I can assure everyone that if I have the unfortunate experience (lol) of being elected to the School Board I will keep this dedicated email address (Sutherland.education@gmail.com) so teachers and staff can express themselves confidentially.]

To summarize, Mr. Dance is an integral part of the arrogant ‘old boy network’ of Manassas.  In his complacency, he publicly denigrates teachers, fails to perform his elected responsibilities, squanders taxpayer money, openly fosters converting the school system into a welfare organization, and, he performs his clumsy pas de chat (jumping up and down on stage like a ballerina) at the joy of spending millions of taxpayer dollars.  Can the citizens of Manassas… and our students and teachers… afford more of this Dance?

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Manassas City Councilman Marc Aveni has asked me to post this annoucement of a  career fair organized by GMU and the PWC Chamber of Commerce on Thursday March 29th from 10am- 3pm at the Freedom Center.

To date, they have 32 exhibitors participating in the fair and are showcasing 65 companies. The career fair will be targeting the general public in Northern Virginia region in addition to Mason’s student population that are job seekers. To promote this to the general public, GMU is working with DC DOES(Department of Employment Services) who will be providing workshops throughout the day. VEC (Virginia Employment Commission) is also on board with helping promote this event.

There will be a large selection of businesses from around the metropolitan area from various industries seeking consultants, full time, part time and seasonal positions. For  exhibitors, it is an opportunity to have direct contact with the job seeker and it allows them to showcase (market) their company to the Prince William community.

Interested businesses can register at: www.pwchamber.org/wdwo-career-fair.

Further logistic details for the setup the day of the career fair will be provided closer to the event day.

Molly Grove Director, Campus Relations Prince William Operations George Mason University 703-993-8376

Here is a list of exhibitors confirmed to date:

Bad to the Bone Smokehouse
City of Manassas Government
Colonial Life
FBI Washington Field Office
Freedom Center
George Mason University HR
Home Instead Senior Care
ICF International
Intelligence Careers
Intersections Inc.
Liberty Mutual
Manassas City Police Department
Minnieland Academy
Prince William County Government
PW Fire and Rescue
Prince William County Police Department
Prince William County Public Schools
South Management Corporation
TML Copies, A Xerox Company
UTZ Quality Foods, Inc.
VEC– in-kind exhibitor space
Verizon Wireless
Wells Fargo
Whitlock & Associates

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