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Posts Tagged ‘Manassas Education’

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Manassas wins 8u and 9u state titles in Baseball.

Girls 8u Softball team repeats as state champs.

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MCPS WARNING:

MCPS and families prepare in case serious respiratory infection hits area

Respiratory Aliment Preparation 2014

A common respiratory virus has been affecting children in some states particularly hard. Enterovirus D-68 can cause severe breathing problems, especially in children with asthma or other pre-existing conditions.

The ailment has not yet been confirmed in Virginia, but Manassas City Public Schools is preparing for its possible arrival. With your help, and the use of standard precautions, we can minimize any possible impact from this ailment to keep our students and families healthy.

What to look out for:
•Watch for cold-like symptoms that seem worse than normal, or involve fever, rash, or difficulty breathing;
•Get children to a doctor quickly if they have pre-existing respiratory problems like asthma, or have increasing respiratory difficulty.

Good health practices are the best protection:

Enteroviruses are common and cannot be prevented or cured. Their spread can be controlled.
•Wash hands frequently with soap and water;
•Cover nose and mouth with a sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
•Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent the spread of germs;
•Watch carefully for cold-like symptoms – sick adults and children should be kept at home for at least 24 hours after fever is gone;
•If someone is sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent spreading illness;
•Avoid kissing, hugging, or sharing utensils with people who are sick;
•Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick;
•Take steps to ensure optimal control of asthma in children;
•We encourage you to get your annual influenza vaccine.

What MCPS is doing:
•School nurses will be carefully monitoring student health and all illnesses;
•Good health practices will be reinforced with students;
•Students showing symptoms of illness will be promptly sent home;
•Parents will be alerted to any unusual levels of illnesses

As with many ailments, good preparation and precautionary measures are truly the best medicine for Enterovirus D-68.

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“The record flood of Central American children crossing the U.S. border is stretching funds and setting off improvisation at public schools.

While politicians spend the summer fighting over how to turn back the tide, school leaders across the country are struggling to absorb a new student population the size of Newark, New Jersey. More than 40,000 children, many of them fresh from violent, harrowing journeys, have been released since October to stateside relatives as courts process their cases.

“These kids were homesick and heartbroken,” said Robin Hamby, a family specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools in suburban Washington, which began feeling the surge almost as soon as it began three years ago.

Her Virginia district employs more teachers who work with non-English speakers than ever, and wrote a curriculum to reunite children and parents, many of whom haven’t seen one another in years. Houston is increasing training and translation. Los Angeles nurses are working overtime to screen for emotional trauma created on the journey north.”

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-us-classrooms-prepare-for-flood-as-migrants-become-pupils-20140712%2c0%2c4201836.story

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MCPS Central Office should save us all the drama and BS of a nationwide search for a new Principal at Osbourn. The two obvious, plausible candidates are Zella Jones and Mike Dufrene. Both would be good choices. The fair and common sense decision would be Dr. Jones to be made Principal and Mr. Dufrene to be made Deputy Principal, if I need to explain the common sense dimension of such a selection to Central Office then they are truly out of touch. Furthermore, there should be only two individuals with “Principal” in their titles.

p.s. My recommendation is based purely on observing the two individuals in action and discussions with other parents with students at Osbourn. They are not personal friends or acquaintances of mine, I have never spoken with them outside school or a school related event.

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Even though it is a program riddled with problems, the EB-5 program may be a possible source of funding for a Manassas charter school:

New US visa rush: Build school, get green card

It’s been a turbulent period for charter schools in the United States, with financial analysts raising concerns about their stability and regulators in several states shutting down schools for poor performance.

The volatility has made it tough for startup schools to get financing.

But an unlikely source of new capital has emerged to fill the gap: foreign investors.

Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools.

In Buffalo, New York, foreign funds paid for the Health Sciences Charter School to renovate a 19th-century orphanage into modern classrooms and computer labs. In Florence, Arizona, overseas investment is expected to finance a sixth campus for the booming chain of American Leadership Academy charter schools.

And in Florida, state business development officials say foreign investment in charter schools is poised to triple next year, to $90 million.

The reason? Under a federal program known as EB-5, wealthy foreigners can in effect buy U.S. immigration visas for themselves and their families by investing at least $500,000 in certain development projects. In the past two decades, much of the investment has gone into commercial real-estate projects, like luxury hotels, ski resorts and even gas stations.

Lately, however, enterprising brokers have seen a golden opportunity to match cash-starved charter schools with cash-flush foreigners in investment deals that benefit both.

The demand is massive – massive – on the school side, said Greg Wing, an investment advisor. On the investor side, it’s massive, too.

Two years ago, Wing set up a venture called the Education Fund of America specifically to connect international investors with charter schools. He is currently arranging EB-5 funding for 11 schools across North Carolina, Utah and Arizona and says he has four more deals in the works.

And that’s just the start, Wing says: It’s going to be explosive.  Read rest of story

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By Charles Sutherland

Campaigning together, after years of “experience” School Board members Messrs. Albrecht and Bushnell want Manassas citizens to give them ‘four more years’ because, they told ‘Patch’, they have “already started addressing some of the challenges facing the city’s schools.”  “We are already taking action…”

“Already started addressing”?  “Already taking action…”?  “Already”…?  What have they been doing for the past twelve years?

Well, that’s easy to answer: they have been driving the school system over a cliff.  Along with fellow incumbents seeking re-election, Messrs. Magee and Dance, they have transformed the Manassas school system into an expensive bi-lingual welfare program, which now has an annual cost of $101 Million, over $14,000 per student, nearly the highest in the US.

Mr. Albrecht says, “It takes many years to learn how to be a successful school board member.”  Is that the number of years it took him and Gail Pope to destroy the City’s education system?  “Many years to learn how…”?  Why hasn’t he been applying the business management and ‘experience’ he claimed to have when he first sought his role on the School Board, and which he now claims again that he has?

Despite broad criticism from teachers, parents, and the education community, the School Board supported superintendent Gail Pope (and her $200,000 annual compensation package) to the bitter end.  Now they continue to support her inept and overpaid hierarchy— including voting 5-2 NOT to terminate DWI-arrested Special Ed Director Beth Dunman-Jones, and NOT taking steps to terminate Deputy Superintendent Michaelene Meyer, regarded by teachers, parents, and educators as a principal source of the school system’s problems and costs.

The Education Forward Committee, which they tout as a paradigm of didactic sagacity, has achieved NOTHING. It  is merely a joint School Board and City Council ‘blame-spreading device’ designed to deceive the public into thinking that the City Council is actively monitoring the $101 Million annual cost of this school system.  (Wish it were true!)

Albrecht calls himself a “fiscal conservative.”  Please…   I didn’t notice any apoplexy from him or his ‘yes man’ Mr. Magee at the March 6 School Board meeting when Kermit Dance endorsed giving away $83,000 of free food this summer, “to anyone, not just students”?

“Fiscal conservative”?   Neither he nor his ‘yes man Magee’ expressed any qualms regarding the issue of providing free lunches and breakfasts to over 60% of the entire student body.  They said nothing when a school official remarked that “we don’t have time to audit more than 1% or so” of the ‘financial need’ applications. (The cost of Food Services for next year is estimated to be $3, 454,808.)  Don’t fiscal conservatives do accounting?

Their cosmetic solutions may look good to the uninitiated, but are fatuous and false:

Reducing student-teacher ratio to 22:1? This is only productive if there are good teachers, a good curriculum, and good student behavior.  The latter two are lacking. Indeed, discipline and truancy are major issues which would distract even if there were only 10 students in a class.

Paying to have “…an additional 1,000 students taking AP tests.”  Instead of generating public relations statistics, how about ‘educating’ more students to ‘pass’ the AP tests?  Try that approach!  Meanwhile, what happens to the self-esteem of those unprepared students who fail these national tests?

What about 41% of the students having Limited English Proficiency (LEP)?  Oh, they propose hiring one reading specialist … for 7,000 students.   That should do it!  And, by the way…. reading specialist’?  Often, these have just been re-assigned teachers.

And haven’t they heard that the Special Ed Department has been missing a teacher for over a year, and the bureaucracy ignores the woeful cries for help by parents who have kids with special needs?

And, how do they deal with Osbourn High School’s loss of accreditation?  Answer:  switch organizations that review accreditation issues in order to get a better result.   Fortunately, OHS’s indolent former principal voluntarily resigned, allowing OHS to have a strong new principal and an exceptional freshman counselor who is addressing the problems.

Has the pompous School Board ever condescended to have discussions with teachers regarding their exclusion from curriculum decisions and the plethora of tests imposed upon them?  (Of course, we know that at an open meeting one School Board member, Kermit Dance, expressed his disdain for the opinion of teachers – those “old dogs who can be taught new tricks.”) Aren’t teachers the quintessential component in an education system?  Not according to the School Board.

Regarding capital investments and the CIP program: Does Mr. Albrecht agree with Mr. Dance, who was recently quoted in ‘Patch’ as saying, “… he [Dance] calculated that two and a quarter years of learning is taken away from a Baldwin student’s time in elementary school (kindergarten through fourth grade) because they can’t focus due to all the noise that occurs with the facility’s utilities and when it rains”?  That’s 45% of a student’s total education over 5 years lost because of noise and rain?  Is he serious?  My goodness!  Is that the same mental math (or mental something…) that Mr. Dance applies to his estimated costs of building that new school he wants, presumably to be named after him?  (Let’s hope Mr. Dance gets voted off the Board before he becomes involved in the math/science programs.)

The current School Board has done nothing to reduce the overpaid and incompetent hierarchy of the school administration; have not terminated Deputy Superintendent Meyer; have done nothing to resolve the lamentable needs of the Special Ed Department; have done nothing to foster the dedicated professionalism of the teachers and involve them in the curriculum; have done nothing to improve the English language and reading programs; have done nothing to enforce birth certificate laws; have done nothing to improve discipline and reduce truancy;  have done nothing to foster parental involvement;  have done nothing to reduce the budget; have openly declined to audit the financial claims of over 60% of the students who receive free lunches and breakfasts; and, have done nothing to improve academic content – instead they have set their academic/political priorities by focusing on developing  misleading statistics for the Washington Post’s Matthews  Index in order to create good public relations for the tourist department.

The “challenges” to which they refer are ones which they and this School Board created!  If you want more of “nothing,” or more “challenges” created, then you should keep them and Messrs. Magee and Dance in office and pretend that these “experienced” emperors are wearing new clothes.

Charles Sutherland is a Candidate for the Manassas City School Board in the May 1st election.

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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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