Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Purdy’

Thank You Ellen.

And then there were none

And then there were none


See 58 minute mark on. Unbelievable Discussion:

Gee, I would think LE would like the evidence of a recording.

Do you think school board members appreciate the irony of them being filmed voting to ban filming? Pretty soon they will ban phones at proms. Thank you Ellen Purdy for all your efforts to bring some accountability and openness to MCPS and thank you school board for your public record for all that you do.


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Charles Sutherland, a prominent critic of the failures of the Manassas City Public School system, announces his candidacy for the Manassas City School Board:


I am seeking election to the City of Manassas School Board in the May election to help educate the young minds of our children in order to prepare them for the tumultuous future they will encounter– and to repair the damages that have been caused to our City’s educational system.

I have considerable experience in education, having attended colleges and universities in the United States and Europe, having been a creator of a “Gifted and Talented” high school program at Long Island University many years ago, having been involved in an experimental “Special Education” program in California, and currently helping two sons who are on the Honor Roll in Osbourn High School, one of whom is a senior and the President of the SCA and the other son is Secretary of the SCA and President of his sophomore class.

Also, many years ago as a Black Belt in karate, when I was involved in a martial arts educational program with the Dallas/Fort Worth Police Department in Texas, as a stimulus to learning for the inner city youth in the program I wrote a student manual called Character for Champions to create a desire for learning in educationally deprived youth (originally published by Vantage Press in 1995 and in 2011 was put on E-books at http://www.smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and others).

A single father who began my sons’ education in preschool in Montessori  schools in Washington, DC and at Tauxemont Cooperative Preschool in Alexandria, my two sons and I have lived in Manassas seven years, where they attended All Saints Catholic School, Metz Middle School, and Osbourn High School.  I have also been an international business man for many years, a CEO of small companies, an account executive for national federal student loan programs, and at one time a consultant to and later Director of Development of The Washington Times.  I am now retired… more or less… and currently a tutor, a cook, and a chauffeur, with an apparent minimum clientele of two teenagers.

As many know, I have been a severe critic of the School Board, and particularly of Gail Pope and her hierarchy, for some time.  During that time I have investigated various issues in the school system, consulted with educators, teachers, administrators, and members of the police department, and have an understanding of many of the basic problems which exist – and are being avoided…or solutions are assumed to automatically emerge if one has committee meetings, throws more money at the problems, or builds more buildings.

What are some of the problems?  Gail Pope and the current School Board transformed the school system into an illiterate, money-spending, profligate welfare organization:  Last year only 78% of the students passed the English performance test, only 79% passed the math test, Osbourn High School was decertified because of its low graduation rate, there is minimal parental participation in the schools, 41% of the students in the City were classified as Limited English Proficiency, over 60% of the students received free or reduced lunches and breakfasts, over 50% of the students are Hispanic (although Manassas is 1,000 miles from Mexico), the school system is ranked near the bottom in the Washington area, and the annual cost per student of $13,800 is near the highest in the United States…while Gail Pope’s compensation package was over $200,000 per year.

No platitudes or philosophizing.  My approach is that the basic unit of a “village” is the family – which includes parents, who, by nature, law, and choice, have the primary responsibility for their children.  My platform, which reduces costs and which I ask you to help many concerned parents achieve, is the following:


  • Compulsory parental participation and involvement: (a) parental signatures on tests; (b) written Interim and Semester performance evaluations of their student(s) by at least one parent; (c) Attend Parent/Teacher Conference at end of each semester, at which time the students’ report cards are given to the parent(s); (d) parent attendance at least once a Semester at a PSTA meeting, or a form letter declining to participate (so that the parent at least has to acknowledge that he/she has an opportunity to support the students)
  • Voluntary programs for parental participation, e.g. periodic “Parents Day” with a parent attending/assisting a class, or a 15 minute ‘talk’ during a “Career Day” explaining to the class the parent’s profession — to show parental involvement, possible career choices, and assist teachers.
  • Background checks on all school personnel, to eliminate the history of sexual abusers or those with criminal pasts who have slipped into our school system
  • Enforce state laws, including original birth certificates to identify kidnapped and abused children and other violators of federal laws or laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Develop discipline programs (“discipline” as its original meaning, “to teach” as well as to control behavior) – including teachers fostering basic manners, i.e. please, thank you, sir, ma’am — in English and the native language!  Enforcement of a dress code (not uniforms)
  • Verify that telephone numbers are the parent’s telephones (not the student’s, unless the student is an Emancipated Minor) to assure compliance of truant students, and to effectively notify parents or guardians
  • Reduce bureaucratic paperwork and related costs and expenses…including MAP tests (?) which are not used for their intended purpose.
  • Smaller English and Math classes: Maximum of 20 students per class until high school, then 25 student maximum
  • Expand teacher resources and technology; promotion and use of existing web-based teaching materials to enable students to study privately. Use RTI to hold teachers accountable for differentiating instruction and as an aid to help identify students in need of more instruction. Use only research-based curriculum (remove ‘Steps to Literacy’?)
  • Revise  ESOL programs and integrate ALL students in at least one class weekly, instead of de facto forced segregation by language; require ESOL students to do web-linked homework in English – or have regular compulsory ‘after-school’ web-linked sessions for ESOL students, with tests in English (since over 41% of the students are classified as Limited English Proficiency)
  • Special Needs students: Require filling of all teacher positions for Special Needs students – with highly qualified teachers as defined under IDEA. Provide iPad technology to the students and families, or inform them how to acquire this technology (which may be paid by their insurance)
  • Repair or expand facilities, after a thorough cost-benefit analysis
  • Provide confidential direct contact information from teachers and parents to school system administration
  • Require students to perform community service, 4 hours a month to help clean neighborhoods, visit the elderly, help fund-raise for school projects; use this community service to integrate the schools’ ethnic groups in a common purpose
  • Provide transparency of all School Board discussions and decisions which do not involve privacy considerations of individual parents and students
  • Explore possibility of a Charter School
  • Hire a superintendent with professional administrative or business background, not only educational background
  • Reduce administrative hierarchy (and spend the savings on math and English teachers) and provide more responsibility, support, and accountability to school principals
  • Reduce waste and corruption in the school system, and reduce the annual per capita cost of $13,800 per student! (one of the highest in the country)

The ancient Chinese proverb says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Magnificent opportunities are often brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.

So, Let us begin.

N.B. If you wish to offer your comments, or assist in any way, or sign the petition to support my official candidacy, or meet for coffee to discuss issues, please communicate at sutherland.education@gmail.com.  Thank you.

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by Ellen M. Purdy

I believe one of the best lessons we can teach our children and youth is how to overcome setbacks, because as we all know, they will surely face them later in life. I also subscribe to the notion that “experience is the best teacher”.  So here is a proposition for you.  Let’s teach our kids how to overcome a setback by giving them no kidding experience in how to get back up rather than stay down.  Trust me; our students are aware they attend schools that are not top rated.  So we have a teaching opportunity.  Let’s make the most of it!!

How do we do that?  Do what we always do: reorient, check to make sure nothing is too badly bruised, then get our feet under ourselves and push up.  [Yes I know I’m ending my sentences with a preposition, but run the Gettysburg Address through grammar check and see how Lincoln did…just sayin’].

I’d say the current City Council and School Board are started on the path of reorientation and checking for bruises.  We probably have a “bruise” in Baldwin Elementary School, so will want to get that checked out and determine the best course of treatment.  For the most part though, yeah… we have the grit to get back on our feet.

Let’s challenge each of our school principals to assemble a team of creative, inspired, and dedicated teachers and staff to establish a “learning experience” in which students are inspired to do their part to turn around their school’s performance and reputation.  We are in this for the long haul, so start with little steps, then pick up speed as we go along.  It really doesn’t have to be grandiose, just better than before.

What should we make better?  For many, a first choice would be test scores, but how about something less stressful just to prove we can?  Then as we get a few “wins” under our belt, we can take on the big one…STANDARDS OF LEARNING TESTS.

Here are some stream of consciousness suggestions.  At the elementary school level how about a contest to see which school has the highest number of students that complete every homework assignment and turns it in on time?  Or the school with the fastest average time for saying all the multiplication tables correctly?  Each month, prizes are awarded to the students at the winning school.   At Mayfield and Metz, they can compete for the “Manassas Cup”.  Whichever school has the most accomplishments in a series of monthly challenges gets to be the home of the cup for the next school year.  Challenges can be in the form of most students with As and Bs on English essays; the school with the highest number of grade-level appropriate books read outside class assignments (give extra credit, this is tough), highest number of science fair participants with As and Bs on their projects.  With a little brainstorming, our Learning Experience teams can come up with all sorts of great ideas.

At the high school level, establish the “Osbourn House Cup” ala Slytherin vs. Gryffindor.  Sort all the students into “Houses” (we can skip the hat) and throughout the year they compete in a variety of events in which they earn points.  The House with the most points wins the Cup. Events can be in the form of discrete competitions such as a Science and Math Super Bowl with the “Einstein Trophy” awarded to the House with the highest overall grade point average in math and science.  Points can be awarded based on random acts of kindness witnessed and logged by teachers and staff.  Points can be earned based on number of tutoring and community service hours volunteered by House members.  As an inaugural event this year, let the students vote to name the Houses.  Mimic the primary and election process.  Have students volunteer to serve as candidates for the proposed names and campaign for the names that make it on the ballot.  May the best names win!

So as not to be a budget buster, work with our local businesses to seek donations of prizes.  Ever notice the great gadgets and gizmos companies give out at conventions? Maybe they can help with economy of scale pricing.  Stage a community wide weekend festival to present and adjudicate ideas for the Learning Experience activities.  The good ideas do not have to just come from our principals, teachers, and staff.  We can also award bonus points in competitions for parent and community volunteers in our schools!!

The bottom line here is we are not stuck with our current school status, and we do not have to spend a fortune to turn it around.  What we do need is to motivate our students, get our parents and community involved, and just pick ourselves up!  Not only can we improve our school performance, but we can also teach our children a valuable lesson through experience.  For those of you really paying attention, you will notice I wove in several other valuable life lessons in my suggestions.  If you think I’ve actually put forth an idea or two that has merit (I’ve pitched more than one clunker in my lifetime), please feel free to contact me and maybe together we can just “get- r- done”!

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My name is Lori J. Perez and it is my intent to run for School Board in the upcoming May 2012 elections.  If you live in and vote in the City of Manassas, I need your help and support.

I am a 25 year resident of the City of Manassas.  I am a single mom of 2 children that have attended Manassas City Schools since my oldest was in 5th grade and my youngest in 1st grade.  My son is a youngster (sophomore) at the US Naval Academy and my daughter is a junior at OsbournHigh School, currently tops in her class.  I currently work as the Accounting Manager at the City of Manassas.  I also am a licensed Certified Public Accountant with a small tax practice and teach for Strayer Online University.  I am a member of the AICPA, the GFOA and the VGFOA. I am currently the PTSA President, the Theatre Boosters President, the Athletic Boosters Treasurer and the Choral Boosters Treasurer, all at Osbourn High School.  I have been the PTA vice-president at Metz Middle School and the “Copy Mom” for my children’s teachers while they were at Metz also.  I was the fundraising chairperson at Mayfield elementary school the first year it was open and we raised over $35,000 for the PTA that year in the fall fundraiser, all due to the great help from parents and the enthusiasm of the students.  I have also been the treasurer at Baldwin Elementary School. I have been a Cub Scout Leader; a committee member for my son’s Boy Scout Troop, and a Girl Scout leader for my daughter’s troop.  I am currently on the Finance Committee, the Evangelism Committee and the Church council for my church.  As you can see I am actively involved in many aspects of our children’s lives.

More importantly, I am a strong advocate for our children and our schools.

What do I believe?

  1. I believe that the time for change in NOW.  No longer can we stand for the status quo.  For too long the existing school board has not taken the responsibility it has been given to provide true leadership for our schools.  They have not held the administration accountable for our failing schools.  There will be a new superintendent this coming year with the retirement of Dr. Pope.  We all wish her well.  BUT the school board needs to select a person that has strong proven leadership skills. This is not only in telling us what needs to be done but DOING it.
  2. We need to evaluate all our budgeted dollars and MAKE SURE we are using them fiscally responsibly.  We need to cut excess spending and reallocate those dollars where they are needed.  Where can we make the most impact with the dollars we have been given.  For all the expenditures what is the return we are seeing for this investment.
  3. We need to start listening to our teachers and giving them the tools they need to truly teach and not ask them to do things that are not giving our students what they need.  Boldly I would say, what is the reason for all the MAP testing that is done when all the teachers I talk to say it is not used?  That is not a sound financial investment of resources and time.
  4. We also need to start looking at how can the schools partner with the community to make it a truly mutually beneficial arrangement.  How can we ask businesses to invest in our schools if they do not see anything in return?  How can we get our students involved in our community?  Why is community service not required for graduation in our schools?
  5. I believe that student achieve to our expectations. If we do not expect anything from them, they will not perform.  That is human nature.  BUT on the same vein, we need to give them the tools to help them achieve what they need.  This involves more than technology (although that is a tool). Technology is not the answer to all the problems. It takes INTERACTION with all the appropriate people including parents, students, teachers and administrators to make this happen.  AND this needs to start in elementary school not in high school.

These are but a few things I believe. I would work tirelessly make this change happen but I need your support.  I am now asking you to help me take my involvement with our students to a new level.  Not only as a volunteer for all the above groups that I have volunteered many hours for but for all our children.  I would like to represent you and your children with the governing Board of all our schools. I feel true leadership comes from information and involvement.  I need your support on Election Day.  We can make a difference if we work together for the betterment of all our students.

Thank you for reading this request. Please share this with your family, friends and neighbors.

Lori J, Perez, CPA


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With respect to the pending retirement of Dr. Pope, I offer the following:

Dear MCPS School Board,

I volunteer to serve on the selection committee for the new superintendent. I am a concerned parent who is committed to ensuring our schools provide our children and youth the knowledge and life skills they will need to create bright futures for themselves. Why do I think I can help? I know a thing or two about effective leadership…and that is first and foremost what our new superintendent must provide to turn our school system around.

I would like to know how the applicant would establish a culture of public service and excellence among his/her direct staff and restore the focus on our students. I would be interested in hearing how the applicant would go about empowering and supporting our school principals and teachers; how the applicant would hold staff, administrators and teachers accountable for their performance; and what the applicant would do to eliminate non-value added reporting and paperwork. I’d be interested in how the candidate would partner with the community, local government and local services to create a mutually supportive environment across the city for our students.

I’d like to hear the applicant explain the steps that would be taken to ensure every elementary school student has been prepared to be successful at Mayfield and Metz, and every Metz student has been prepared to be successful at OHS. I would like to know what standards the applicant would invoke to ensure that parents are responded to in a meaningful manner. I’d like to understand the applicant’s approach to transparency in use of our tax dollars.

The answers to these questions will tell us if the applicant has the needed vision, integrity, grit, and leadership skills. It’s not enough to tell us what would be done. The measure of effectiveness will be in HOW the applicant would go about getting it done…with respect to people, resources, and dedication.

Ellen M Purdy Candidate for MCPS School Board

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