Friday, May 30, 2008

More colleges move toward optional SATs

This from CNN: Graphic from Leann Johnson in the NY Times.

...Several colleges and universities went test-optional in the 1990s amid concern that the test was a barrier to equal opportunity for minorities, women and low-income students, said Robert Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest. Some schools also dropped the test as a requirement with the explosion of test coaching, which gave upper-income kids an advantage.

Today, about 30 percent, or nearly 760 colleges and universities out of the approximately 2,500 accredited four-year institutions across America have made at least some standardized tests optional for some applicants, according to the nonprofit advocacy group FairTest....

Full text of Obama's education speech

"Forcing our teachers, our principals and our schools to accomplish all of this without the resources they need is wrong.

Promising high-quality teachers in every classroom and then leaving the support and the pay for those teachers behind is wrong.

Labeling a school and its students as failures one day and then throwing your hands up and walking away from them the next is wrong.

We must fix the failures of No Child Left Behind. We must provide the funding we were promised, give our states the resources they need and finally meet our commitment to special education. We also need to realize that we can meet high standards without forcing teachers and students to spend most of the year preparing for a single, high-stakes test."
-- Barack Obama

This from the Denver Post, Photo by Chris Carlson, AP.

Sen. Barack Obama's speech, "What's Possible for Our Children," was delivered at Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts in Thornton on Wednesday:

"It's an honor to be here at Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts. Just three years ago, only half of the high school seniors who walked the halls of this building were accepted to college. But today, thanks to the hard work of caring parents, innovative educators and some very committed students, all 44 seniors of this year's class have been accepted to more than 70 colleges and universities across the country.

"I'm here to congratulate you on this achievement, but also to hold up this school and these students as an example of what's possible in education if we're willing to break free from the tired thinking and political stalemate that's dominated Washington for decades, if we're willing to try new ideas and new reforms based not on ideology but on what works to give our children the best possible chance in life.

"At this defining moment in our history, they've never needed that chance more. In a world where good jobs can be located anywhere there's an Internet connection— where a child in Denver is competing with children in Beijing and Bangalore — the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge. Education is the currency of the Information Age, no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success but a prerequisite. There simply aren't as many jobs today that can support a family where only a high school degree is required. And if you don't have that degree, there are even fewer jobs available that can keep you out of poverty.

"In this kind of economy, countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow. Already, China is graduating eight times as many engineers as we are. By 12th grade, our children score lower on math and science tests than most other kids in the world. And we now have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation in the world. In fact, if the more than 16,000 Colorado students who dropped out of high school last year had only finished, the economy in this state would have seen an additional $4.1 billion in wages over these students' lifetimes.

"There is still much progress to be made here in Thornton, but the work you've done shows us that we do not accept this future for America.

"We don't have to accept an America where we do nothing about six million students who are reading below their grade level.

"We don't have to accept an America where only 20 percent of our students are prepared to take college-level classes in English, math and science. Where barely one in 10 low-income students will ever graduate from college.

"We don't have to accept an America where we do nothing about the fact that half of all teenagers are unable to understand basic fractions. Where nearly nine in 10 African-American and Latino eighth-graders are not proficient in math. We don't have to accept an America where elementary school kids are only getting an average of 25 minutes of science each day when we know that over 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs require a knowledge base in math and science.

"This kind of America is morally unacceptable for our children. It's economically untenable for our future. And it's not who we are as a nation.

"We are the nation that has always understood that our future is inextricably linked to the education of our children — all of them. We are the country that has always believed in Thomas Jefferson's declaration that "talent and virtue, needed in a free society, should be educated regardless of wealth or birth."

"That's who we are. And that's why I believe it's time to lead a new era of mutual responsibility in education, one where we all come together for the sake of our children's success. An era where each of us does our part to make that success a reality: parents and teachers, leaders in Washington and citizens all across America.

"This starts with fixing the broken promises of No Child Left Behind. Now, I believe that the goals of this law were the right ones. Making a promise to educate every child with an excellent teacher is right. Closing the achievement gap that exists in too many cities and rural areas is right. More accountability is right. Higher standards are right.

"But I'll tell you what's wrong with No Child Left Behind. Forcing our teachers, our principals and our schools to accomplish all of this without the resources they need is wrong. Promising high-quality teachers in every classroom and then leaving the support and the pay for those teachers behind is wrong. Labeling a school and its students as failures one day and then throwing your hands up and walking away from them the next is wrong.

"We must fix the failures of No Child Left Behind. We must provide the funding we were promised, give our states the resources they need and finally meet our commitment to special education. We also need to realize that we can meet high standards without forcing teachers and students to spend most of the year preparing for a single, high-stakes test. Recently, 87 percent of Colorado teachers said that testing was crowding out subjects like music and art. But we need to look no further than MESA to see that accountability does not need to come at the expense of a well-rounded education. It can help complete it — and it should.

"As president, I will work with our nation's governors and educators to create and use assessments that can improve achievement all across America by including the kinds of research, scientific investigation and problem-solving that our children will need to compete in a 21st century knowledge economy. The tests our children take should support learning not just accounting. If we really want our children to become the great inventors and problem-solvers of tomorrow, our schools shouldn't stifle innovation, they should let it thrive. That's what MESA is doing by using visual arts, drama and music to help students master traditional subjects like English, science and math, and that's what we should be doing in schools all across America.

"But fixing the problems of No Child Left Behind is not an education policy on its own. It's just a starting point.

"A truly historic commitment to education — a real commitment — will require new resources and new reforms. It will require a willingness to move beyond the stale debates that have paralyzed Washington for decades: Democrat versus Republican; vouchers versus the status quo; more money versus more accountability. It will require leaders in Washington who are willing to learn a lesson from students and teachers in Thornton or Denver about what actually works. That's the kind of president I intend to be, and that's the kind of education plan I've proposed in this campaign.

"It begins with the understanding that from the moment our children step into a classroom, the single most important factor in determining their achievement is not the color of their skin or where they come from. It's not who their parents are or how much money they have.

"It's who their teacher is. It's the person who stays past the last bell and spends their own money on books and supplies. It's the men and women here at MESA who go beyond the call of duty because you believe that's what makes the extra difference. And it does.

"And if we know how much teaching matters, then it's time we treated teaching like the profession it is. I don't want to just talk about how great teachers are. I want to be a president who rewards them for their greatness.

"That starts with recruiting a new generation of teachers and principals to replace the generation that's retiring and those who are leaving. Right here in Colorado, more than 6,000 teachers won't be returning to the schools where they taught last year. That's why as president, I'll create a new Service Scholarship program to recruit top talent into the profession and begin by placing these new teachers in overcrowded districts and struggling rural towns, or hard-to-staff subjects like math and science in schools all across the nation. And I will make this pledge as president to all who sign up: If you commit your life to teaching, America will commit to paying for your college education.

"To prepare our teachers, I will create more Teacher Residency Programs to train 30,000 high-quality teachers a year. We know these programs work, and they especially help attract talented individuals who decide to become teachers midway through their careers. Right here in MESA, you have excellent teachers like Ike Ogbuike, who became a math teacher after working as an auto-engineer at Ford and completing a one-year, teacher-residency program.

"To support our teachers, we will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced, successful teachers with new recruits — one of the most effective ways to retain teachers. We'll also make sure that teachers work in conditions which help them and our children succeed. For example, here at MESA, teachers have scheduled common planning time each week and an extra hour every Tuesday and Thursday for mentoring and tutoring students that need additional help.

"And when our teachers do succeed in making a real difference in our children's lives, I believe it's time we rewarded them for it. I realize that the teachers in Denver are in the middle of tough negotiations right now, but what they've already proven is that it's possible to find new ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them.

"My plan would provide resources to try these innovative programs in school districts all across America. Under my Career Ladder Initiative, these districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as mentors to new teachers with the salary increase they deserve. They can reward those who teach in underserved areas or teachers who take on added responsibilities, like you do right here at MESA. And if teachers acquire additional knowledge and skills to serve students better — if they consistently excel in the classroom — that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

"And when our children do succeed, when we have a graduating class like this one where every single student has been accepted to college, we need to make sure that every single student can afford to go. As president, I will offer a $4,000 tax credit that will cover two-thirds of the tuition at an average public college and make community college completely free. And in return, I will ask students to serve their country, whether it's by teaching or volunteering or joining the Peace Corps. We'll also simplify the maze of paperwork required to apply for financial aid and make it as easy as checking off a box on your tax returns because you shouldn't need a Ph.D. to apply for a student loan.

"Finally, as so many of you know, there are too many children in America right now who are slipping away from us as we speak, who will not be accepted to college and won't even graduate high school. They are overwhelmingly black, and Latino, and poor. And when they look around and see that no one has lifted a finger to fix their school since the 19th century, when they are pushed out the door at the sound of the last bell — some into a virtual war zone — is it any wonder they don't think their education is important? Is it any wonder that they are dropping out in rates we've never seen before?

"I know these children. I know their sense of hopelessness. I began my career over two decades ago as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago's South Side. And I worked with parents and teachers and local leaders to fight for their future. We set up after-school programs, and we even protested outside government offices so that we could get those who had dropped out into alternative schools. And in time, we changed futures.

"And so while I know hopelessness, I also know hope. I know that if we bring early education programs to these communities, if we stop waiting until high-school to address the drop-out rate and start in earlier grades — as my Success in the Middle Act will do — if we bring in new, qualified teachers, if we expand college outreach programs like GEAR UP and TRIO and fight to expand summer learning opportunities for minority and disadvantaged students — like I've done in the Senate — or if we double funding for after-school programs to serve a million more children, as I've proposed to do as president, if we do all this, we can make a difference in the lives of our children and the life of this country. I know we can. I've seen it happen. And so have you.

"Yes, it takes new resources, but we also know that there is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child's education from day one. There is no substitute for a parent who will make sure their children are in school on time and help them with their homework after dinner and attend those parent-teacher conferences, like so many parents here at MESA do. And I have no doubt that we will still be talking about these problems in the next century if we do not have parents who are willing to turn off the TV once in awhile and put away the video games and read to their child. Responsibility for our children's education has to start at home. We have to set high standards for them and spend time with them and love them. We have to hold ourselves accountable.

"This is the commitment we must make to our children. This is the chance they must have. And I will never forget that the only reason I'm standing here today is because I was given that same chance. And so was my wife.

"Our parents weren't wealthy by any means. My mother raised my sister and me on her own, and she even had to use food stamps at one point. Michelle's father was a worker at a water-filtration plant on the South Side of Chicago and provided for his family on a single salary. And yet, with the help of scholarships and student loans and a little luck, Michelle and I both had the chance to receive a world-class education. And my sister ended up becoming a teacher herself.

"That is the promise of education in America, that no matter what we look like or where we come from or who our parents are, each of us should have the opportunity to fulfill our God-given potential. Each of us should have the chance to achieve the American dream. Here at MESA, you've shown America just how that's possible. I congratulate you, and I wish you continued success, and I look forward to working with you and learning from you in the months and years ahead.

Thank you."

Kentucky public schools increase graduation rates

Secretary Spellings has vowed to nationalize the definitions related to dropout/graduation rates. This is a good thing. In fact, it's the approach NCLB should have taken form the start - national goals and definitions, but state level efforts to reach those goals.

Be that as it may, using the current nationally recognized, if flawed, definitions, new state data shows slightly more of Kentucky's public school pupils are graduating high school and fewer are dropping out.

The Kentucky Department of Education released data on Wednesday that shows Kentucky's graduation rate has increased from 83.26 in 2006 to 83.72 percent last year. The data shows the percentage of high school dropouts fell from 3.3 percent in 2006 to 3.2 percent in 2007.

While the current definition may not be perfect, it is consistently used in Kentucky and is valid for verifying the positive change.

SOURCE: KDE press release

Does Creativity = Intelligence?

Tapping Talents

Yale University researchers are pilot-testing an assessment for identifying gifted and talented children that taps intellectual skills other than those captured by traditional intelligence tests. The new tests are being translated and tested with tens of thousands of 9- to 12-year-olds, not only in the United States, but also in England, India, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and include questions, such as the one below, designed to measure students’ creativity.

This from Education Week:

Cronyism First Yields Poor Results

"Well, a Federal study released today shows that President Bush's $1 billion a year Reading First program has done nothing to increase the reading skills of young students. However, his Oil Company First program -- going like gangbusters."

That was Jay Leno's joke following last week's report that President Bush's $1 billion a year initiative to teach reading to low-income children has not helped improve their reading comprehension.


Sam Dillon writes in the New York Times:

“Reading First did not improve students’ reading comprehension,” concluded the report, which was mandated by Congress and carried out by the Department of
Education’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences. “The program did
not increase the percentages of students in grades one, two or three whose reading comprehension scores were at or above grade level.”

There's nothing I enjoy quite so much as some good old fashioned Bush bashing. I have trouble finding a whole lot this administration has gotten right.But in the case of Reading First, sober reflection causes me to hold my fire. This is a program President Bush almost got right. But it was also a program badly damaged by unethical practices (and consequently needy children were damaged).

Where did it all go wrong? Just follow the money.

In October 2006, Michael Grunwald wrote in The Washington Post, "an accumulating mound of evidence" suggested "that Reading First has had little to do with science or rigor. Instead, the billions have gone to what is effectively a pilot project for untested programs with friends in high places.

"Department officials and a small group of influential contractors have strong-armed states and local districts into adopting a small group of unproved textbooks and reading programs with almost no peer-reviewed research behind them. The commercial interests behind those textbooks and programs have paid royalties and consulting fees to the key Reading First contractors, who also served as consultants for states seeking grants and chaired the panels approving the grants. Both the
architect of Reading First and former education secretary Roderick R. Paige have gone to work for the owner of one of those programs, who is also a top Bush fundraiser.

On Sept. 22, the department's inspector general released a report exposing some of Reading First's favoritism and mismanagement. The highlights were internal e-mails from then-program director Chris Doherty, vowing to deny funding to programs that weren't part of the department's in-crowd:

'They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the [expletive] out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags.'

Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement in response to the report on the Reading First program.

"The Bush Administration has put cronyism first and the reading skills of our children last and this report shows the disturbing consequences. Instead of awarding scarce education dollars to reading programs that make a difference for our children, the Administration chose to reward its friends instead. I call on the Administration to put children first by putting politics aside and enlisting high-quality programs in the important task of helping school children learn to read."

I can certainly sympathize with anyone who wanted to wash their hands of the program, NCLB, Spellings and everything else that goes with it.

However, this is a moment to stop - and think about the kids. I say this for two reasons: First, putting high quality teachers in front of needy children is going to be the solution to closing the achievement gap. We need to be persistent and patient. Second, the media has reported the report's conclusions and printed the headlines without much examination. This study was neither randomly constructed nor designed to draw the conclusions it made.

Reading guru Reid Lyon analyzes the limitations of the Reading First study, which found no improvement in reading scores for high-need students. The sample excluded the neediest schools, which presumably would be most affected.

Lyon says: . . . many non-Reading First schools were implementing the same programs and professional development opportunities as the Reading First schools. This impact evaluation is not a true experiment which could have certainly been done given the tremendous financial resources allocated for the evaluation.

As Tim Shanahan, who served on the study's Technical Work Group has pointed out, the comparisons made were not Reading First with non-Reading First schools, but Reading First with less-Reading First schools.Lyon also points out that Reading First schools are spending less than an hour a day on reading instruction, much less than the program calls for, and are devoting more time to comprehension than to phonics.

D-Ed Reckoning has adds:

"Methodological deficiencies notwithstanding, I'm not sure why anyone is surprised that the the interim Reading First Study seems to be showing null results."

NewsHour interviewed Douglas Christensen, commissioner of the Nebraska Department of Education, and Michele Goady, director of the Reading First program for the Maryland Department of Education last week.

Here's the transcript:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, a multibillion-dollar reading program for struggling students comes under fire. Jeffrey Brown has the story.

JEFFREY BROWN: The idea of the Reading First program is to improve elementary school reading, particularly for low-income children. And it now reaches about 1.5 million students in 5,200 schools nationwide.

The program requires students to spend additional time each day on a set plan emphasizing several skills, including phonics.

In 2001, President Bush described it as a cornerstone of the federal No Child Left Behind effort.

President of the United States: We`re making great progress on what I`ve called a Reading First initiative. The budget I submitted triples the amount of money to help fight illiteracy in schools.

It says that, if a state wants, you can access the federal money. But you develop a K-2 diagnostic tool to make sure kindergarten teachers through second-grade teachers have got the ability to discern which children need extra help.

It means you`ve got to develop a curriculum that works. By the way, phonics needs to be a part of our curriculum in America.

JEFFREY BROWN: But is it working? A new study from the Department of Education found the program has had no measurable effect on students` reading comprehension.

The program has also been under fire over concerns about conflicts of interest in the awarding of contracts. As a result, Congress has reduced its annual budget.

We get two views now. Douglas Christensen, commissioner of the Nebraska Department of Education, and Michele Goady, director of the Reading First program for the Maryland Department of Education.

Well, Ms. Goady, starting with you, first, help us understand this program. How is it different from traditional means of teaching reading?

MICHELE GOADY, Maryland State Department of Education: Well, Reading First is not just a program, but it was a federal initiative to provide funds to the states, to provide an intensive reading program for children who were traditionally struggling in reading.

So we selected both school systems and schools that traditionally needed a lot of support in reading. We went in and provide a comprehensive reading program.

So it includes providing support for teachers through what we call coaching, or mentoring, being with teachers, supervised support. It does include a clear, systematic instruction.

And that instruction would include the full complement of a reading program, a core reading program we want to call it, provide services for children that continue to have problems in reading. And we would call that supplemental and intervention services.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Mr. Christensen, what`s wrong with that? Why do you think it`s been ineffective?

DOUGLAS CHRISTENSEN, Commissioner, Nebraska Department of Education: Well, I think from the beginning it`s been a policy disaster, in the fact that there was no evidence to support heading down this road in the first place.

It seems to me that the reading panel that was convened prior to this made it very clear that there were multiple methods of reading instruction that were supported by evidence and there was no one particular methodology that came out above the rest.

And yet, Reading First came out to look at direct instruction as just about the only way in which phonemic awareness and phonics and those, structure of language, comprehension, could be taught.

And I think, secondly, it fails from the standpoint of any notion that you can transform practice from such a remote place from the classroom as Washington, D.C.

Geographically, certainly the distance is huge, but from the standpoint of practice, you couldn`t get any more -- any further away from the classroom than you do there.

And then, secondly, or third, the idea that you can prescribe a practice and that you can create compliance conditions and, therefore, teachers will simply become perfect or best teachers they can possibly be, that notion has never been established and is offensive to me as an educator that we would try to be that prescriptive about a program.

JEFFREY BROWN: Let me get a response from Ms. Goady. Have you found specific results that you can -- positive results that you feel you can point to?

MICHELE GOADY: In Maryland, we have had good results. When we look at our Maryland state assessment scores of our children in reading before Reading First, up until last year, we see growth in all of our Reading First school districts and in all of our schools. So test scores is one way that we measure that.

But more importantly, when we go into classrooms and we see teachers who feel more confident about their skills, who are better able to teach a variety of readers with a variety of needs, differentiated needs, and we`re able to see them be successful, and we`re able to see children reading, and reading successfully, we`re making success. We`re moving forward.

JEFFREY BROWN: I wonder, Mr. Christensen, is this a debate over defining what we mean by reading or reading comprehension or what kids can actually read? What exactly is the problem in how to determine success in something like this?

DOUGLAS CHRISTENSEN: Well, I think that is one of the issues, that`s at the heart of that, is that the measurement of reading looks more at the sub-skills of reading than the actual outcome of reading, which is being able to comprehend, being able to place meaning in the words that are being used, and then to turn around and be able to write on the basis of what you have read.

And I see no evidence that Reading First has done that. In fact, the sole and almost exclusive use of DIBELS, in my opinion, prevents Reading First from accomplishing what it could accomplish.

DIBELS is certainly an indicator that kids are developing some degree of fluency in the ability to recognize and pronounce words, even nonsense words, but it has nothing to do with grasping meaning, or understanding, or being able to take an idea and make it your own.

And I think that, as a result, we`ve prescribed reading to a point where we`re certainly meeting the prescriptions. The indicators are clear, but the outcomes simply are not there. And confusing indicators with outcomes is a guarantee of failure.

JEFFREY BROWN: Ms. Goady, how do you account for the results of this study that came out yesterday from the Department of Education`s research center?

MICHELE GOADY: Well, when you look at the study, first of all, it looked at growth for the first part or first two years of Reading First. This is an interim report, not a final report. So we`re very anxious to see what`s going to happen as we look at the final report.

However, even looking at the report -- it looked at about 18 schools, I believe, which is a small set of all of Reading First -- it did point to -- certainly, the report pointed to things that we can begin to review and we can even look at, in terms of giving more emphasis, more work on.
But more importantly, it did say that teachers understood scientifically based reading research in more comprehensive way. The report did say that there was more time spent in reading instruction, as compared to before Reading First.

So even the report pointed to some advancements that have happened because of Reading First.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Christensen, as I said in the introduction, President Bush
clearly tied this to his larger No Child Left Behind effort. And that, of course, has been criticized by some for its approach and the testing and the standardization. Is part of your problem with this particular program tied up in that larger critique, as well?

DOUGLAS CHRISTENSEN: Well, in some sense, yes. In another sense, no. In the sense that you can standardize what our students are to learn and how they are to be taught simply, in my opinion, flies in the face of what it is that we`re trying to teach and what our schools should be about.

We`re trying to produce worthy citizens. And fourth-grade math scores or second-grade DIBELS scores are not an indicator of the degree to which we`re producing kids who are competent, and capable, and self-reliant, and so forth.

I certainly don`t want to ignore those things. But to make those indicators be outcomes is a perversion of both Reading First and No Child Left Behind.

JEFFREY BROWN: Did I hear you say -- did I hear you use the word "DIBELS"?


JEFFREY BROWN: And what is that?

DOUGLAS CHRISTENSEN: DIBELS is a test -- and I don`t know exactly what it stands for -- but it`s a test that`s used to determine the student`s speed and accuracy in recognizing words that are commonly appropriate for a first-grader, a second-grader, and so forth.

But, again, it`s a word recognition. It may be primer to fluency, but it doesn`t in any way constitute a measure of understanding or the ability to purport meaning to it. And almost all the projects are required to use DIBELS as its outcome measure, and DIBELS is not an outcome. Comprehension is an outcome.

And I think that`s the other part of it. When you try to change practice from so far away from our classrooms, you use indicators as outcomes and it becomes a practice of remote control.
And I`m going to oppose anything, whether it`s a No Child Left Behind, Reading First, Math First, or whatever else comes along, when it begins to diminish the professionalism and judgment of teachers, I simply can`t support that. We should be informing them, not taking that away from them.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Ms. Goady, we have time for a brief response to all of that.

MICHELE GOADY: OK. Well, I think DIBELS, just to answer that, is one of the measures that we use to take a snapshot, to look at where children are at a point in time in their reading.
Teachers use that information. We talk about using data to inform instruction, to inform the instruction that a child is going to receive.

So based on what we see from DIBELS, it helps direct, to some extent, what we`re going to do next. And I think that`s important.

When we think about progress monitoring, DIBELS is one progress monitoring instrument. There are many. There`s also the SAT 10 and other kinds of outcome measures that are used across the state.

What to me is the real story of Reading First is that we have teachers that, because of the systematic training we`ve provided, are better able to teach children, coaches that are able to support teachers.

In Maryland, we have a system of community colleges, universities, institutions of higher-ed, which are getting some of the same information so that it can help train our pre-service and our in-service teachers.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Michele Goady and Douglas Christensen, thank you both very much.


C-J gives Berman's plan high marks

This from the Courier-Journal:

The board says yes

Supt. Sheldon Berman has passed a major test with high marks. He earned a unnanimous endorsement from the Jefferson County Public Schools board, for a new school assignment plan that factors in not just race but also education and income.

The public seems largely satisfied with the plan, which was necessitated by a wrong-headed and hard-hearted decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, in which a bare majority of justices undercut this community's long commitment to diversity.

Only a handful of citizens and parents showed up at the board meeting where a final vote on the new plan was taken. This absence of controversy could suggest a number of things, but we believe it means the proposal was thoughtfully put together and carefully adjusted to meet the concerns of not just board members but also other interested individuals and groups.

It really was a historic moment for JCPS. It was one more evidence of the community's ongoing commitment to educating young folks for the kind of world they will encounter after graduation.

Resolving the high court's objections to the current approach will clear the way toward solving real problems and truly fundamental goals.

For example, the school system -- when looked at broadly -- works very well. But it is failing too many economically and socially disadvantaged children. Too many schools just aren't getting the job done. Dr. Berman and his team have kept this in mind as they fashioned a new approach to school clusters and magnet sites. They have used school assignment planning as an opportunity to position JCPS for broader, deeper success.

Statistics just released by the state Department of Education underline only one of the unmet challenges: a dropout rate of 6.4 percent last year, and a graduation rate of 72.7 percent. Those are not acceptable numbers, in an era when the high school diploma is a minimum requirement for finding stable and meaningful work.

Board of Education to Meet

JUNE 11-12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

9:00 a.m. (EDT)

I. Call to Order

II. Roll Call

III. Approval of minutes from the April 2-3, 2008, regular meeting

IV. Report of the Secretary of the Education Cabinet

V. Report of the President of the Council on Postsecondary Education

VI. Report of the Executive Director of the Education Professional Standards Board

VII. Report from the Pre-K to 16 Council

VIII. Report of the Commissioner of Education

IX. Good News Items

X. Full Board Items

A. Initiatives of the Partnership for Successful Schools and the Kentucky League of Cities/New Cities Initiative -- Carolyn Witt Jones, Sylvia Lovely and Tom Prather; 30-minute presentation/10-minute discussion; discussion (Goal 1: High Student Performance, Goal 2: High Quality Teaching and Administration and Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

B. 703 KAR 5:070, Procedures for the inclusion of special populations in the state-required assessment and accountability programs -- Ken Draut; 20-minute presentation/10 minute discussion; (Goal 1: High Student Performance, Goal 2: High Quality Teaching and Administration)

C. 703 KAR 5:080, Administration Code for Kentucky's Educational Assessment Program -- Ken Draut; 20-minute presentation/10-minute discussion (Goal 1: High Student Performance, Goal 2: High Quality Teaching and Administration

XI. Hearing Officer's Report

A. 702 KAR 3:270, SEEK Funding Formula - Additional Revisions
B. Other

XII. Presentation by the commissioner to the 2007 Milken Award Winner, Dodd Caudill, LaRue County Middle School

XIII. Lunch

1:00 P.M. (EDT)

XIV. Presentation by the 2007-2008 Special Education Teacher of the Year -- Selina Meyer, Indian Trail Elementary School, Jefferson County School District; 20-minute presentation/10-minute discussion


XV. Management Committee Meeting
A. Action/Consent Items

1. District Facility Plans: Crittenden, Johnson, Lawrence, Martin and Todd County School Districts and Danville, Russell and Williamstown Independent Districts (Lawrence County Hearing Report under separate cover) (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

2. District Facility Plan Amendment: Nelson County School District (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

B. Review Items

1. Status Report on KHSAA Responses to the Major Recommendations from the Commission on Interscholastic Athletics (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

C. Action/Discussion Items

1. 702 KAR 7:065, Designation of Agent to Manage High School Interscholastic Athletics and Revisions in Kentucky High School Athletic Association Bylaws and Due Process Procedure (Final) (Being reconsidered due to request by the Administrative Regulation Review subcommittee; Was last approved by the KBE in February 2008) (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

2. Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control Member Appointment (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

3. 2007 Report, 2007 Exceptions and 2009 Plan required by 702 KAR 1:115, Annual in-service training of district board members (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

4. 2009 Kentucky Minimum Specifications for School Buses (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

5... 702 KAR 7:130, Uniform Procedures for Approval of Alternative, Innovative ..... School Calendars (Emergency and Ordinary Versions) (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

6... Site approval for Harlan Independent School District (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each and Every Child)

D. Review Items (Cont'd)

2. 702 KAR 3:080, Treasurer's Bond, penal sum (Goal 3: Strong and Supportive ..... Environment for Each School and Every Child)


7:00 p.m. (EDT)
(No business to be conducted)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

8:30 a.m. (EDT)

XVI. Curriculum Committee Meeting

A. Action/Consent Items

1. Certification of Non-Public Schools (Goal 1: High Student Performance, Goal 2: High Quality Teaching and Administration and Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

B. Review Items

1. 704 KAR 3:340, Commonwealth Diploma Program (Goal 1: High Student Performance, Goal 2: High Quality Teaching and Administration and Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

2. Arts Assessment and Accountability Update (Goal 1: High Student Performance, Goal 2: High Quality Teaching and Administration and Goal 3: Strong and Supportive Environment for Each School and Every Child)

XVII. Approval of Action/Consent Agenda Items (approved as a block of items)

A. District facility plans
B. District facility plan amendments
C. Certification of nonpublic schools

XVIII. Report of the Management Committee on Action/Discussion Items

XIX. Report of the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee on Action/Discussion Items

XX. Board Member Sharing

XXI. Information Items

A. KDE Employment Report (Goal 1: High Student Performance)

XXII. Litigation Report

XXIII. Internal Board Business

A. 2008, 2009 and 2010 meeting dates
B. Revisions to the KBE Policy Manual
C. Appointment of KBE Nominating Committee
D. Appointment of KBE member to the P-16 Council

XXIV. Adjournment


(Lunch provided for KBE members, Invited Guests and Commissioner’s Planning
Committee members/Associates only)


SOURCE: KDE Internal Communication

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Educating a New Majority: The Condition of Education 2008

This from Eduwonkette:

The National Center for Education Statistics released the 2008 Condition of Education report this morning. If you need any basic stats on education – early childhood through post-secondary – this 300+ page report is for you.

In this year's report, the NCES drew attention to the changing demography of American schoolchildren. Minority students make up 43 percent of American public school enrollment, and higher proportions in the South (48%) and West (55%). One in five children speak a language other than English at home. The graph below shows demographic enrollment trends from 1986-2006 by region.
Also striking is the extreme racial segregation of our schools. No, it’s not new news – but these figures never fail to astound me. 31% of African-American students attend schools that are 75% or more African-American, while 64% of white public school students attend schools that are 75% or more white....

10 states act to stop teacher sex abuse

This from H-L:
Ten states have taken action in recent months to crack down on sexually abusive teachers following a stream of arrests and reports that have documented the problem of educators victimizing students.

Governors, state education officials and lawmakers have led the push for new measures, which include tougher penalties for teachers who abuse students, punishment for administrators who fail to properly oversee their faculty, and an effort to train an entire state's corps of teachers to recognize potential abusers in their midst.

At least four more states are still considering legislation.

While the vast majority of America's roughly 3 million public school teachers are committed professionals, a disturbing number have engaged in sexual misconduct. When faced with evidence of abuse, administrators sometimes fail to let others know about it, and legal loopholes let some offenders stay in the classroom.

"Too often in the past, we as adults have failed our children," Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said when he signed a new law last month. "Today with this legislation, hopefully, we begin earning back their trust." The measure passed without a single no vote.

Kentucky lawmakers originally drafted a measure aimed at abusive teachers, with the final legislation written broadly to encompass priests, teachers and anyone in authority over someone younger than 18. Besides increasing penalties for abusers and giving prosecutors more time to bring charges, the Kentucky law also takes aim at officials who don't report abuse to authorities...

The Bully of Burkesville Defends his Title

After about 4 hours of voting this morning, 515 Herald-Leader readers responded to a poll question: "Should the state Senate be renovating its offices?"

So far, 95% of respondents said No.

But history suggests that will have no impact on Senate President David Williams.

The reigning title holder - the bulliest of the bulliest - the great constitutional interpreter - the one who stomps critics - the one who took the Golden Rule out of the anti-bullying bill - King David is still the champ.

In his mind, cuts to education are OK because they could have been worse...and there just wasn't enough money.

In his mind, cuts to child care are OK because they could have been worse...and there just wasn't enough money.

In his mind, cuts to law enforcement are OK because they could have been worse...and there just wasn't enough money.

In his mind, it's OK if you lose you job as long as he gets to keep the 60-inch plasma TV in his oak-paneled office. It makes him feel important. It makes him feel a King. Besides, he says the cuts aren't inflicting any real pain. At least - none that he can feel.

The pain you feel when you child can't go to a high quality school, or afford college tuition, or medical care, or isn't safe on the streets, or can't get a fair trial - It's not real. It's all just in your mind. What a relief!

In his mind, it's a good thing there was just enough money for the third renovation of Senate offices since 2003... "It's nothing very extravagant..." "Each one of the senators will have an appropriate office now. We have at least one senator who has a rather small office."

Anybody wanna guess who gets the small office?
Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, has challenged Williams previously on Senate office improvements. Scorsone publicly mocked Williams last year for installing a new 60-inch plasma-screen television in his office -- part of an earlier, $639,000-round of renovations -- and Williams ordered Scorsone off the Senate Judiciary Committee.
KSN&C talked to Ernesto and he doesn't know if his office space will change or not, but he says none of the senate offices are very small.

Not yet perhaps. That's all up to you know who.

This from the Herald-Leader:

State Senate offices to be expanded, renovated


The Kentucky Senate is renovating its offices at the state Capitol Annex in Frankfort, while public health programs, law enforcement, education and other state services face cuts.

On Tuesday, the state requested bids for construction on the Annex's second floor to build new Senate offices, caucus rooms with kitchens, a press conference room and a Senate lounge. The 5,250 square feet of space previously was used by executive-branch agencies, which are slowly being evicted as the General Assembly claims more space in the Annex. New furniture, appliances and electronics will be purchased.

Senate President David Williams said he won't know the project's cost until bids are opened next week. But lawmakers can afford it. While the legislature this winter told Gov. Steve Beshear to cut $230 million from the executive branch's $9.1 billion
budget, it awarded itself 13 percent more over two years, taking it up to $55.6 million in 2010. It tucked about $1.4 million for capital projects into this year's budget...

School board approves student-assignment plan

This from C-J:
Change to begin in fall of 2009

Calling it a historic moment for Jefferson County Public Schools, the district's board voted unanimously yesterday to approve an integration plan that will use race, income and education in assigning children to schools.

"This is a terrific opportunity because we are starting something new and as we move forward and work through this, I believe it is going to be better for our students," said board member Larry Hujo.

Under the new student-assignment plan, all schools -- elementary, middle and high -- must enroll at least 15 percent and no more than 50 percent of their students from neighborhoods that have income and education levels below the school district average, and higher-than-average numbers of minorities.

The plan would begin in elementary schools with the 2009-10 school year, although district officials have said they don't expect every school to immediately meet the goals. The board decided last night to keep in their current schools about 3,400 elementary students who would have had to move. Those students will not be affected by the plan until they move to middle school.

Jefferson County was forced to create a new student-assignment plan after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June that the school district's old plan was unconstitutional. The court said the district looked only at individual students' race when assigning them to schools.

Several board members, along with Superintendent Sheldon Berman, called the creation of a new student-assignment plan a historic moment for both Jefferson County and its school system, one of the largest in the country.

"There have been a number of historic moments … in general, they have gone the other direction, in terms of being forced to integrate," Berman said. "This one is to sustain integration within the context of a very complex decision on the part of the U.S. Supreme Court." ...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mercer school board makes no announcement on superintendent's future

This from the Danville Advocate-Messenger:

HARRODSBURG — Those looking for a sense of resolution to the ongoing saga of Superintendent Bruce Johnson and the Mercer County School district will have to wait a bit longer. Despite buzz to the contrary, the Mercer County BOE made no announcement Tuesday night of Johnson’s future relationship with the school system.

Tuesday night’s special meeting of the Mercer County Board of Education may have had only two items on the agenda, but that didn’t stop dozens of concerned citizens, parents and teachers from attending.

The Mercer County BOE will meet again 5:30 p.m. Thursday with three items on the agenda. Among those items are approval of the tentative budget and a public participation forum.

Scheduled for Tuesday's meeting were an approval of minutes from the special May 13 BOE meeting and an executive session to discuss a personnel issue, and while no one would confirm or deny whether the issue pertained to Johnson, many believed that to be the case.

Last week, Johnson sent mixed signals about his intentions with Mercer County schools. In a May 21 meeting with school system administrators, Johnson revealed he intended to resign effective in December. This was confirmed by Mercer County Fifth-Grade Academy Principal Dana Cobb, who was present at the meeting.

The issue complicated even further when, later that day, Johnson released a statement through Lisa Gross at the state Department of Education stating he’d offered the Mercer board the option to release him from his contract.

As he entered the auditorium Tuesday night, Johnson was smiling, a difference in demeanor in a month that’s seen Mercer County fall under the state spotlight for financial woes.

In early May, Mercer County schools announced $2 million in cuts for the 2008-09 tentative budget. Among those were the elimination of 42 jobs — 22 classified and 20 certified — as well as a reduction in the system’s kindergarten from full-time to half-day.

Johnson proposed systemwide 3.5 percent salary cuts to free up funds for the program, a notion that drew the ire of most teachers and staff. A suggested poll of faculty was never conducted, and the idea was scrapped.

Since then, however, the board announced the system will be able to fund full-day kindergarten for next year, yet declined to offer an explanation on how. The issue remains murky, and the tentative 2008-09 budget tabled and unapproved.

It took only 22 seconds for the board to approve the minutes from the last meeting and enter the executive session. Attorney Bill Barnett joined the board as members exited the auditorium.

Crowd waited for announcement

Most in the crowd remained calm and patient during the two hours and twenty minutes of the executive session, proving the requested presence of Harrodsburg Chief of Police Ernie Kelty to be unnecessary. However, when the board descended the staircase at the meeting’s conclusion, the audience's chatter went silent with anticipation of an announcement.

But that wasn’t to be the case.

“After the executive session, we’ve had discussions that could lead to the dismissal of an individual employee,” said Chairperson Glynda Short. “There was no action taken, but an additional meeting will be held after the results of our requested financial review. That’s the only statement we have.”

Johnson didn’t return with the board after the private session, and the meeting was adjourned without him to the audible groans of those in attendance.

Short’s remarks for the board may have been brief, but she did offer personal comments of her own.

As reporters from The Advocate-Messenger and The Harrodsburg Herald placed their recording devices on the board’s table, Short could be heard making several sarcastic comments.

“Maybe they’ll get it right this time if they’ve got a microphone up here,” Short said to other board members. She repeated this statement twice.

Short, when asked to elaborate on her remark, said that she was misquoted by The Harrodsburg Herald’s C.J. Ratliff in his story from the board’s last meeting. Ratliff offered he recorded all of the board meetings and welcomed Short to review his past recordings with him. The invitation was declined.

After last week’s developments, calls from both newspapers to Short went unreturned. Short explained the reason for this was she was out of town.

Alvis Johnson, a former employee of the Harrodsburg district, was on hand at the meeting. Johnson sympathized with both sides. He said he knows what it’s like to be in the board’s position of scrutiny but also felt for the parents who came to the meeting looking for closure.

“I am I little disappointed for the parents who sat and waited for more than two hours for them to take action.”

Jefferson County Board to consider student-assignment plan

This from C-J:

Attendance guide has broad base

The Jefferson County Board of Education will decide tonight whether to move forward with an integration plan that would use race, income and education in assigning children to schools.

Under the proposal, all schools -- elementary, middle and high -- must enroll at least 15 percent and no more than
50 percent of their students from neighborhoods that have income and education levels below the district average and higher-than-average numbers of minorities...

...Some national desegregation experts predict the plan
will withstand legal challenges and keep schools from becoming racially or socioeconomically segregated.But Alan Foutz, senior attorney for California's Pacific Legal Foundation, which is challenging a similar plan in Berkeley,
Calif., said he believes both plans are simply a proxy for using race in making student assignments, and are unconstitutional.

And Teddy Gordon, the Louisville lawyer who forced the district to drop its previous desegregation policy, agreed, saying in a statement yesterday that the plan "will be
challengeable." ...

...Then, district officials expanded its definition of diversity to include not only race, but also education and income level. It measured the average household income, education level and minority population of elementary school enrollment areas, based on U.S. Census data.

It decided that every school must have at least 15 percent and no more than 50 percent of it students from enrollment areas where the average household income among school families was below $41,000; the average education level was less than a high-school diploma with some college; and minority student population was more than 48 percent...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Teacher lets kindergarten class vote a student off the island

This from TCPalm:

Mom says teacher let classmates vote
autistic son out of class

PORT ST. LUCIE - Melissa Barton said she is considering legal action after her son's kindergarten teacher led his classmates to vote him out of class.

After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn't like about Barton's 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex -- who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism -- out of the class.

Melissa Barton filed a complaint with Morningside's school resource officer, who investigated the matter, Port St. Lucie Department spokeswoman Michelle Steele said. But the state attorney's office concluded the matter did not meet the criteria for emotional child abuse, so no criminal charges will be filed, Steele said....

... the teacher confirmed the incident took place...

Barton said after the vote, Portillo asked Alex how he felt.

"He said, 'I feel sad,' " Barton said.

Alex left the classroom and spent the rest of the day in the nurse's office, she said.

Barton said when she came to pick up her son at the school Wednesday, he was leaving the nurse's office.

"He was shaken up," she said.

Barton said the nurse told her to talk with Portillo, who told her what happened.

Alex hasn't been back to school since then, and Barton said he won't be returning. He starts screaming when she brings him with her to drop off his sibling at school.

Thursday night, his mother heard him saying "I'm not special" over and over.

Barton said Alex is reliving the incident.

The other students said he was "disgusting" and "annoying," Barton said.

"He was incredibly upset," Barton said. "The only friend he has ever made in his life was forced to do this."

St. Lucie School's spokeswoman Janice Karst said the district is investigating the incident, but could not make any further comment...

Portillo photo from Thinking in Metaphors:

Helicopter Moms vs. Free-Range Kids

A New York columnist lets her grade-schooler
ride the subway alone,
provoking a wave of criticism.

But do kids really need more supervision
than in generations past?

Would you let your fourth-grader ride public transportation [in New York City] without an adult?

Probably not.

Still, when Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, wrote about letting her son take the subway alone to get back to her Manhattan home from a department store on the Upper East Side, she didn't expect to get hit with a tsunami of criticism from readers.

"Long story short: My son got home, ecstatic with independence," Skenazy wrote on April 4 in the New York Sun. "Long story longer: Half the people I've told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It's not. It's debilitating—for us and for them."

Online message boards were soon swarming with people both applauding and condemning Skenazy's decision to let her son go it alone. She wound up defending herself on the cable news networks (accompanied by her son) and on popular blogs like the Huffington Post, where her follow-up piece was ironically headlined "More From America's Worst Mom."

The episode has ignited another one of those debates that divides parents into vocal opposing camps. Are modern parents needlessly overprotective, or is the world a more complicated and dangerous place than it was when previous generations were allowed to roam unsupervised? ...

School takes cell phones after nude photos circulate

This from Teacher Magazine:

SANTA FE, Texas (AP) — School district police have been confiscating dozens of cell phones from students after nude pictures of two junior high girls began circulating, the district superintendent said.

"Those students forwarded the images and the circle opened up and got wider and wider," Superintendent Jon Whittemore said Tuesday.

He said that it all started when two Santa Fe Junior High School students took nude photos of themselves and sent them to their boyfriends. The boyfriends forwarded the photos to others, who in turn forwarded them again, he said...


Last week KSN&C posted a story about the on-going conflict between the Jefferson County Schools and the Jefferson County Teacher's Association. Superintendent Sheldon Berman non-renewed several teachers whose contracts expired. But since some of the dismissals were based in part on poor performance the JCTA says Berman has to give them additional protections in the form of a 12-week rehabilitation program. C-J and KSN&C sided with the district.

In a response to C-J, Brent McKim reminded readers of the possibility that a "bad" principal might fire a "good" teacher, and that would be bad. True enough. Apparently, McKim can tell which is which, but doesn't think Berman can. McKim wrote,
The predictable characterization that JCTA is trying to protect "bad" teachers is wrong. We are trying to protect a fair process that eliminates ineffective teachers while protecting good teachers from "bad" administrators... A fair process that eliminates ineffective teachers while protecting good teachers from arbitrary termination is truly in the best interest of students
Today the New York Post reminds us of the other side of the story. In this case, a tenured teacher enjoyed so much protection that the time and resources necessary to remove the teacher were simply ridiculus.

This from the New York Post:
May 27, 2008 -- It took more than four years and $253,000 for the city's Department of Education to get rid of just one tenured teacher in 2007, according to data obtained by The Post.

Former PS 197 teacher David Salkin, 56, had taught for only five years in Queens before administrators accumulated enough documentation asserting he couldn't control his classroom - and in 2005, bumped him to the department's "rubber room," where educators get paid to do nothing while under investigation, records show.

It then took another 21/2 years for the school system to cut him loose - while Salkin, who had earned tenure after his third year teaching, collected a total of $169,000 in salary.

Salkin's case is just one example of what officials call the needlessly long and arduous process for removing inadequate teachers...

ACT Test-Prep Backfiring in Chicago, Study Finds

This from Education Week:

Hours of drilling on ACT questions in Chicago high schools may be hurting, not helping, students’ scores on the college-admission exam, according to a study released today by a university-based research organization. The Consortium on Chicago School Research, based at the University of Chicago, found that teachers in the 409,000-student district would spend about one month of instructional time on ACT practice in the core classes offered during junior year. But the ACT scores were slightly lower in schools where 11th grade teachers reported spending 40 percent of their time on test preparation, compared with schools where teachers devoted less than 20 percent of their class time to ACT preparation.

The study examined surveys and test scores of high school juniors in 2005. Teachers were also surveyed as part of the study. Elaine Allensworth, a co-director at the consortium and the lead author of “From High School to the Future: ACT Preparation—Too Much, Too Late,” identified two problems: First, devoting so much time to preparation diverts attention from the broad content knowledge that students need to do well on the test. Also, the test preparation that most teachers are doing in the classroom is poor...

Wake Forest joins schools dropping SAT, ACT requirement

This from the Herald-Leader:

RALEIGH, N.C. --Wake Forest University will no longer require applicants to take the SAT and ACT exams, boosting a movement to lessen the importance of standardized tests in college admissions.

The Winston-Salem school, which admitted just 38 percent of its 9,000 applicants for this fall, is the latest in a string of colleges that no longer require standardized tests. Officials there say the scores are not the best predictor of academic potential.

Most other colleges that have dropped standardized testing have not been highly selective and accept most, if not all, qualified applicants. The most prominent and selective schools have generally continued to use the tests as one of several admissions criteria. The announcement Tuesday from Wake Forest - on the heels of a similar decision this month by Smith College in Massachusetts - adds two more selective colleges to the movement.

Wake Forest said it was the first of the top 30 schools in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings to drop the tests.

Director of Admissions Martha Allman said she has seen students at the top of their class who excelled but did poorly on the SAT and didn't get in. The school, which did away with the testing requirement while examining how to diversify the student population, will instead place more emphasis on personal interviews, academics and extracurricular activities. Students can still have their test scores considered if they want...

Graphic from Schools Matter.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Arkansas Storm Cellar

Silberman touted Coleman for top Scott County Post

This by Bob Leonard at the Georgetown News-Graphic

Various failures hurting education
If you care about the quality of education our children receive in the public school system, you should be worried, very worried.
Last week I had a discussion with Scott County Superintendent Dallas Blankenship concerning the impact of the state budget on the Scott County school system. He told me that it was time for school leaders to stop acting like everything was going to be all right in spite of the state budget enacted by the General Assembly.
To the contrary, the Scott County system is being dramatically stressed by the reduction in funding received from the state, and our programs are going to suffer as a result.
In response to the failure of the legislature to provide adequate funding for public education, Scott County schools will be forced to cut over $2 million from its budget. This reduction in funding will result in the termination of all first-year employees who were initially hired last year; cuts in the Extended School Services program that provides tutoring to students who primarily need help in reading and math; reduction of preschool programs; and a delay in acquisition of needed textbooks. And just to make sure local school systems were totally screwed, the legislature required a 1 percent increase in pay that wasn't fully funded.
If you want to go right to the heart of this failure, you need to look no farther than the failure by the legislature to raise the tax on tobacco. In reality, it was nothing more than a tradeoff in which ideologues like our state senator, Damon Thayer, chose to protect smokers instead of taking action to help kids. In spite of the fact that tobacco-related illnesses impose hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in costs on our health care system every year, the general assembly, primarily the state senate, failed to address reality.

The true reality is that by failing to take action that would adequately fund educational needs, the legislature has set the course for a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. If education is indeed the key to our state's future success, the inaction of the legislature has our ship of state heading directly toward a waterfall. It kind of makes you wonder if the people responsible for these decisions have their kids in the public school system.
In response to this situation the Scott County Board of Education basically has two choices. It can either live within the means provided by current revenue levels, which will result in a $2 million loss in revenues and program reductions, or it can attempt to raise property taxes beyond the 4 percent threshold for recall when the rates are determined later this year. Given the community's lack of support in past efforts, it is unlikely this alternative will be pursued.
While this situation is not the fault of our school board, the ridiculous efforts being put forth to hire a new superintendent falls directly at their feet. You will recall that when Dallas Blankenship announced his retirement, the Board of Education formed an advisory committee comprised of certified and classified employees, as well as parents to review the applicants for the position.
Their task was to narrow the list to five applicants for consideration by the board. However, almost as soon as the recommendations were made, the board announced it was expanding the search, apparently giving little consideration to the efforts put forth by the search committee.
I really didn't realize how little consideration was given to these efforts until this past Saturday night when I attended a wonderful teacher appreciation ceremony held at Bracktown Baptist Church in Lexington, where my wife Debbie, Ann Marie Sill, and Willow Hambrick were honored for their commitment to educating the children of the church.At this ceremony I had the pleasure of meeting Fayette County School Superintendent Stu Silberman, who is widely recognized as the most progressive and effective superintendent in Kentucky.
After talking briefly with him, I was horrified to find out that perhaps the finest candidate to apply for the position in Scott County, Carmen Coleman, hadn't even been given the common courtesy of an interview even though she was one of the finalists recommended by the search committee. While acknowledging that the decision was up to the Scott County school board, Mr. Silberman matter-of-factly stated that our board had made a major mistake.
In his opinion, the very qualities that resulted in Silberman recruiting Mrs. Coleman away as principal of Anne Mason Elementary to work in Fayette County as his assistant would have made her an excellent choice for Scott County Superintendent.
Although the members of the advisory committee were not allowed to rank the applicants in order of preference, I have it on good authority that Mrs. Coleman was the top choice of at least a plurality, if not a majority, of the advisory committee.
It is an insult to the members of the committee and, most importantly, Mrs. Coleman for the members of the board not to at least interview such a top notch applicant. In my opinion, this failure was totally unrelated to the qualifications of the applicant. In fact, when an acquaintance asked a school board member about this snub, the person replied "politics got involved."

You would think that our board members would care more about our children, than
politics. As a fitting postscript, I am now hearing that the school board is asking the advisory committee to start meeting again, probably to help clean up the mess they have made of this search process. It is indeed sad that Mrs. Coleman has withdrawn from the process, preferring to wait for an opportunity where a hiring decision will be made based on the merits of the applicants.

JCTA chief responds to editorial criticism

This is C-J:

I am writing in response to your recent editorial, "It's about the kids," dealing with the arbitrary termination of many beginning teachers in JCPS. I agree with the title of the editorial, but strongly disagree with its content.

Early in my career, I taught with an excellent second-year English teacher at one of our JCPS high schools. A number of my students at the time described him as the best teacher they ever had. Due to a personality conflict with the principal having nothing to do with the teacher's performance, the principal placed this English teacher on notice of "significant deficiency." This set in motion a procedure, required by the labor contract and by school board policy, in which he was notified of the specific deficiencies he needed to address and was given 12 weeks to do so with assistance from appropriate district personnel.

To make a long story short, because other district personnel found the teacher to be effective, the principal removed the teacher from the deficiency process. The teacher transferred to a different high school, where he still teaches and has been elected by his peers to be English department chair each year. He works well with the principal and parents, presents professional development for other teachers across the district, and students continue to describe him as the best teacher they have ever had.

If Dr. Sheldon Berman and The Courier Journal's editorial board had their way, this teacher would have been summarily non-renewed back in 1993 without just cause and without a fair process that provided an opportunity to correct (or in his case, dispel the false accusation of) deficiencies. If "it's about the kids," how would depriving 15 years of students of this outstanding teacher be doing the right thing?

The predictable characterization that JCTA is trying to protect "bad" teachers is wrong. We are trying to protect a fair process that eliminates ineffective teachers while protecting good teachers from "bad" administrators. Think for a moment about your favorite teacher. Wouldn't you want him or her to be entitled to such a fair process?

Two separate and independent third-party arbitrators hired jointly by JCTA and JCPS, have reviewed the district's actions and have determined that the JCPS administration is violating the contract by not following the significant deficiency process. The district has been ordered by the arbitrators to "cease and desist" in violating this process, but Dr. Berman continues to do so.

A fair process that eliminates ineffective teachers while protecting good teachers from arbitrary termination is truly in the best interest of students, and after all, "it's about the kids."

JCTA President
Louisville 40218

Peggy Petrilli's BTWA Chronology

Updated November 2008

Chronology: Peggy Petrilli and
the Booker T Washington Academy

2000 to 2004 - (KSN&C) Petrilli received acclaim in recent years as principal of Northern Elementary. She showed a flair for innovation, emphasized the arts and found more instructional time by starting Saturday programs. She created a more inviting atmosphere in the school, and her students made significant progress in academics. Since 2000, test scores rose 20 points on the state assessment, into the low 70s, while the number of "novices," the lowest performers, was cut in half. Much of the school's success has been credited to Petrilli's leadership. Petrilli served on Governor Ernie Fletcher's education committee

July 28, 2001 - Northern Elementary School principal Peggy Petrilli , who moved to Fayette County from Texas a year ago, told H-L she welcomes the public scrutiny and feels supported by the central office and superintendent. "We're headed in exactly the right direction," she said. "The community has a responsibility to hold us accountable and Robin is taking that responsibility seriously."

October 7, 2001 - (H-L) At Northern Elementary School, Principal Peggy Petrilli and her staff plan to adopt math activities from Maxwell Elementary and lesson plans from LaRue County. "Why not go to pockets of excellence in our own state to bring ideas back, and then modify, refine and implement them to meet the needs of our school and our staff?" Petrilli told Lisa Deffendall when she was education reporter for the Herald-Leader. "Why reinvent the wheel?"

October 10, 2001 - Peggy Petrilli , Northern's principal, said the [Great Leaps literacy]program is great for students who are struggling with reading and ..."It's so phenomenal for them (the children) to have their volunteer come into a classroom. Their eyes light up," Petrilli said.

January 16, 2002 - (H-L) Petrilli urged FCPS board members to pay more attention to enrichment programs for neighborhood schools such as hers.

September 18, 2002 - (H-L) Petrilli reported to the African American Education Coalition that the school's volunteer reading program brings in 20 adults to read with children and show children that "some outside person cares about them as individuals."

March 10, 2003 - (H-L) Petrilli told the Fayette county Board she has test scores to prove that music education is essential to academic achievement. With a grant from the state, Northern began violin instruction for every student from kindergarten through third grade. As of January, 70 percent of the second and third-graders are meeting or exceeding the work required of them. "We have no African-American achievement gap," Petrilli said. "In fact, our African-American students are over-achieving ... in comparison with Caucasian children at second grade and even with the third grade." The children themselves say music has had an impact on their lives. Fourth-graders at Northern are particularly riled that they might not see fifth-grade band.

March 26, 2003 - (H-L) Thanks to a $100,000 Arts and Humanities Foreign Language Integration Grant from the Kentucky Department of Education, all Northern Elementary students are receiving Spanish instruction twice each week. The program began this month. Northern was one of 10 schools selected statewide and the only Fayette County school to pilot the two-year grant program, said principal Peggy Petrilli . Elementary schools also were selected in Bowling Green Independent and in Henderson, Warren, Jefferson, Kenton, Jessamine, Bell, Greenup and Breathitt counties. "We're so excited about this grant," Petrilli said. "It's important that we develop and implement an exceptional pilot program. I'm determined to keep it going." Petrilli said there is a growing Hispanic population at Northern. "Something like this makes them see that they are special. With this initiative, their native language becomes intriguing and exciting to English speakers," she said. "It's a way to bring the two groups of students together."

June 4, 2003 - (H-L) In September, Petrilli promised students that if they improved their score on the Scholastic Reading Inventory Test to 80 percent, she would dye her hair blue. The students came through.

September 29, 2003 - (H-L) Only about 15 percent of Northern students were reading on grade level in 1999, said Principal Peggy Petrillo (sic). Petrillo (sic), who took over as principal in 2000, started a program of increased discipline for students, more professional development for teachers, and a greater focus on achievement. By last school year, 80.7 percent of Northern students were reading on grade level overall, and among second-graders, the figure was 91 percent, Petrillo (sic) said. "In second and third grade, the African-American children performed as well as, if not better than, the Caucasian children, so there was no gap," Petrillo (sic) said. The results show that achievement gaps can be closed, but that it takes time, she said. ...the human rights commission director, conceded that the organization found individual bright spots like Northern "everywhere we looked."

October 8, 2003 - (H-L) Between 2002 and 2003, scores went up at nearly 70 percent of Fayette County's 51 schools. Scores fell at 15 schools and remained flat at one. Northern Elementary had the largest one-year gain -- 8.9 points -- in the district . "It starts when children are in primary," said Northern principal Peggy Petrilli , who calls teachers the most important variable in the classroom. "And it takes time to put in place all the strategies and training the teachers need to be able to see good student achievement growth in children."

November18, 2003 - (H-L) At Fayette County's Northern Elementary, 40 percent of poor students reached proficiency on state reading tests last spring. Facing a statewide benchmark of 47.27 percent proficiency, Northern would have fallen short. Enter the confidence interval. To account for possible error, state officials calculated that Northern's score might be 19.9 points higher. So the percentage of poor students reading proficiently is adjusted up to 59.9 percent, and the school meets the federal target. "It's legitimate, but it certainly gives us a lot of wiggle room," Northern principal Peggy Petrilli said. "Our goal, of course, is to meet the standards every year without that help. We don't want to depend on the confidence intervals to pass." In all, Northern was helped five times.

Novmber 21, 2003 - (H-L) New Secretary of the Education, Arts, and Humanities cabinet, Virginia Fox was introduced by Governor-elect Ernie Fletcher in front of dozens of fifth-graders at Northern Elementary School in Lexington. Fox said she plans to lay groundwork for one of Fletcher's campaign promises: that all students can read by the third grade. At Northern Elementary, for instance, only 15 percent of students were reading at grade level in 1999. This year 80 percent of students achieved that standard, said principal Peggy Petrilli.

April 22, 2004 - (Art Jester at H-L)

Rays of hope are shining forth from the city's north side. Call them "Northern Lights." That's the title of a report issued today that praises Northern Elementary School as "something special" because "it has significantly raised student achievement while dramatically reducing school suspensions."

Northern has "dramatically changed from one of the worst schools in the Fayette County public school system to one of the best," says the study by Building Blocks for Youth. It is a national alliance of organizations concerned with issues on children, youth and the youth justice system. The report's author is David W. Richart, executive director of the National Institute on Children, Youth & Families at Spalding University in Louisville and formerly with Kentucky Youth Advocates.

"The report does not mean to assert that the achievement gap (between white and minority students) has been closed, but it is narrowing" at Northern, Richart said in an interview. "I've been in a lot of schools, but I've never been in a school where you could feel it so immediately - something exciting is going on," he added. Evidence of this improvement is cited in the report's two basic findings:
* The percentage of students who can read at their grade levels rose from 15 percent in 1999 to 81 percent in 2003. This is taken from the Scholastic Reading Inventory, a national test that compares students' performance against that of their peers.
* The number of incidents leading to suspensions dropped from 29 in 2000-2001 to 12 in 2002-2003. The number of students suspended fell from 16 in 2000-2001 to seven in 2001-2002...

...Historically, most of its students have been black and poor. Today, 70 percent of Northern's students qualify for free lunch because they are from low-income families. Enrollment is 60 percent black, 30 percent white and 10 percent Hispanic.

The report credits the turnaround to Principal Peggy Petrilli and teachers she recruited because they shared her belief that all students can excel. "There is a moral imperative that we teach children at very high levels," Petrilli said. Arnold Gaither, chairman of One Community, One Voice, a Lexington coalition devoted to closing the
achievement gap, said: "For years, we've been hearing that the kids who are poor, and minority kids, can't learn and can't be taught. Peggy Petrilli and her teachers are dispelling that myth." Numerous civic leaders have called the achievement gap Lexington's most serious problem.

Petrilli, who became principal in 2000, noted a sign of progress in that reading scores for blacks and whites in 2nd and 3rd grades last year were virtually even. She supports the reading effort by meeting with teachers every Friday, hiring a reading coach and testing students frequently, sometimes weekly. Petrilli said she has begun a similar approach this year to boost Northern's math scores, which she called

While students have shown improvement on the National Reading Inventory, state tests show sizable achievement gaps persist in reading and math. In 2003, 66 percent of white students scored proficient or distinguished in reading compared with 40 percent of black students. In math, the difference was 38 percent of whites scoring proficient or distinguished compared with 12 percent of blacks.

Other goals in Northern's curriculum reflect high aspirations: being fluent in Spanish by the end of 5th grade; learning Latin in 4th and 5th grades; learning to play various instruments to prepare for being in the school band; and Saturday classes, which typically attract 60 to 80 students or more.

Richart, speaking to the issue of student behavior, said that in many schools, students are often sent to the principal's office for relatively minor offenses which can ultimately lead to court. He said this begins a "school-to-prison pipeline" that ends in failure in the student's life.

At Northern, students who misbehave are sent to the in-school suspension office,
where they are treated seriously but also with encouragement. A staff of mental health professionals and social workers helps students with family and emotional problems. "We hold a child accountable for their actions regardless of what their disability or situation is," Petrilli said. "We will not allow a student to disrupt the learning of others." Teachers are trained to manage behavior problems, and misbehavior becomes the exception rather than the rule at Northern.

Carrie Jackman, a 5th- grade teacher with 16 years of experience in the Fayette system, called Petrilli a "visionary who provides the wherewithal to reach those dreams."

"We are empowered as teachers, because research has long shown that having a strong principal enables teachers to do their best work," said Jackman, in her second year at Northern. The school is the "best-kept secret in Lexington," she said.

Betty Hawkins, who has a daughter and a cousin at Northern, said the school's "reputation before Mrs. Petrilli came was not very good." But Hawkins, noting the improvement, said: "The kids really care about their teachers, and the teachers really care about their students. "The best part about this school is they test them so frequently, and they group the students according to their scores," she said.

Each night, students must take home a planner, or calendar notebook, in which they have written homework assignments and reminders; teachers can also include notes.
Parents must sign the planner every night. "It's very important to do this," said Shauntae Jackson, 11, who wants to be a pediatrician or a lawyer.

The atmosphere empowers students, said Nicole Rashid, 11, who said she would like to be an archaeologist or a lawyer. "If we don't listen, if we don't write notes, it's our fault," Nicole said. "Our education is up to us. Teachers are there to guide our way."

April 28, 2004 - (H-L) editorial says Northern's progress challenges the myth that poor, minority children can't learn while confronting other dangerous assumptions: that poor parents won't get involved in their children's education, that teachers don't care whether children learn and that disciplining children requires removing them from the classroom. Erasing such thinking is the first step toward raising educational levels for all students at all schools.

May 8, 2004 - (Cheryl Truman at H-L)

Over the next few weeks, you'll be hearing a lot about what Fayette County should be looking for in a school superintendent. Actually, it's rather simple: We need a superintendent who nurtures principals like Peggy Petrilli ...Frankfort's state education establishment, including Gov. Ernie Fletcher and state education secretary Virginia Fox, love Petrilli...

So the driving question in this superintendent search should be: How can we find
somebody who can nail down the money -- from any source, anywhere -- to be shoveled into achievement gap-narrowing programs like Northern's? And which of the candidates has the most compelling and proven vision for how to narrow the achievement gap throughout the school system?

Fayette's school system needs more people like Petrilli. It needs more people who yield results and fewer who run around playing at damage control, compiling reports and yammering about hardships. Schools aren't about process. They're about finding the joy in education.

Fall 2004 - Fayette school officials with support from One Community One Voice approached UK president Lee Todd for the university's help in solving the achievement problem at two low performing schools. Todd agreed to get involved. The plan: Merge the Academy at Lexington and Booker T Washington Elementary, get UK educators to secure grants and offer student mentors, and place a strong leader at the helm.

November 2004 - In November, Silberman tells H-L, "We don't want to come in and change everything and make that the cause of the increase in student achievement. We want to take the current population and faculty and staffs that we have in place and provide them with supports and resources to show what can happen."

Somewhere during 2005 - Peggy Petrilli was named National Distinguished Principal; and Principal of the Year by the Kentucky Association of Elementary School Principals.

July 23, 2005 - As part of the process of revitalizing the schools, [new BTWA] principal Peggy Petrilli wanted to "really transform the building itself, even though it had been renovated." Petrilli, [was] recently named elementary school principal of the year by the Kentucky Association of Elementary School Principals..."When this opportunity came along, I thought all kids deserve to learn at high levels," said Petrilli, who has been in education for 19 years. "I'm really excited with this partnership with the University of Kentucky."

July 26th 2005 - (H-L) Fayette County Board of Education grants Silberman $18,000 of additional performance-based pay based in part on the partnership between Booker T. Washington Academy and the University of Kentucky, which aims to close the achievement gap and raise performance at the merged school.

August 2005 - Seven key faculty members from Northern Elementary transferred to the BTW Academy with Petrilli. Fourteen teachers choose to leave BTWA. Nearly 50% of the faculty at Northern are new to the school.

September 12, 2005 - (H-L) Op-Ed by Richard Day:

The school year has started in Fayette County with an innovation: the new Booker T. Washington Academy. This is a laudable and ambitious collaborative effort involving the merger of two low-scoring, high-poverty schools -- the Academy at Lexington and Booker T. Washington Elementary -- with help from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the University of Kentucky.

Will Fayette County schools Superintendent Stu Silberman achieve his goal to make the academy one of the highest-achieving schools in the state without changing its demographics?

In January, Silberman told parents that much of their children's low-test-score
problem could be attributed to the principals and their ability to motivate their staffs. He said principals -- one at a high-scoring school and one at a low-scoring school -- could be switched, and that the scores would flip-flop in two years. He subsequently selected Principal Peggy Petrilli to lead the new academy.

Petrilli had received acclaim in recent years as principal of Northern Elementary. She showed a flair for innovation, emphasized the arts and found more instructional time by starting Saturday programs. She created a more inviting atmosphere in the school, and her students made significant progress in academics. Since 2000, test scores rose 20 points on the state assessment, into the low 70s, while the number of "novices," the lowest performers, was cut in half. Much of the school's success has been credited to Petrilli's leadership.

But what happens to Northern Elementary now?

Northern has lost its leadership and seven key faculty members who transferred to the academy with Petrilli. As Northern children returned to school this year, they were greeted by 15 faculty members who were new to Northern (almost half the total), including first-year principal Jennifer Flinn.

There is a need for sustainable student achievement growth in every Fayette County public school. The question is how the district gets there.

Silberman told the Herald-Leader last November, "We don't want to come in and change everything and make that the cause of the increase in student achievement. We want to take the current population and faculty and staffs that we have in place and provide them with supports and resources to show what can happen." The goals for the academy could not be higher.

The task of moving low-scoring students into the upper echelons will create a high-pressure environment for the adults involved, and some teachers expressed the desire to transfer out of the spotlight. Silberman extended the time frame allowing
teachers to do so. In the end, 14 teachers left the former Booker T. Washington and nine teachers left the former Academy at Lexington.

Despite the superintendent's desire to minimize the amount of change, Petrilli got an
opportunity to hire a lot of new teachers. A typical elementary principal might expect to hire a handful of new teachers in his first year; perhaps another handful in the second. Principals consider some amount of turnover to be a positive thing as the principal slowly begins to build a faculty that reflects his philosophy.

Most principals prefer to hire teachers with successful track records. But Petrilli seems to choose promising rookies; the academy started the year with 20 first-year teachers out of a total faculty of 40. Well-motivated young teachers can become proficient and loyal. They are also easier to fire if their performance comes up short.

Taking a school from 40 to 70 on the state accountability system is a great thing. Going from 70 to 100 is even better. The state goal is to get every school to 100 by 2014. Getting there may require other schools to engage in the kind of effort that can now be seen only at the academy.

Citizens should continue to monitor the progress of these and all public schools. We should support their efforts and provide adequate resources. They are vitally important to our community's continued prosperity.

October 2, 2005 - (C-J) A recent lunch menu at Lexington's Booker T. Washington Intermediate Academy featured baked fish, broccoli, parsley potatoes and applesauce. On another day, there was baked chicken, spinach salad and whole-wheat rolls. What you won't find on its menus are chocolate milk, chicken nuggets or pizza. "It's something I felt that we as a school could have control over," said principal Peggy Petrilli , who remembers cringing over last year's menus, featuring "chicken nuggets, or steak nuggets or fish nuggets or hot dogs or pizza." But the new menus did not come without a fight. Petrilli, who has lobbied for years to remove sugary, fatty and pre-processed foods from the lunchroom, said a district food service worker who opposed any change once yelled at her. "They couldn't believe I wouldn't let the kids have doughnuts," she said.

October 4, 2005 - (H-L) ...Petrilli's goals are not-so-gradually tiered. First, get the students to fully embrace the menu. Next, by mid-year, make the experiment cost-effective. Next year, work with local farmers to put fresh local produce on local school plates. Goal one is proving a hurdle. While Petrilli says the kids have not asked her for desserts, Jonathan James, 8, says he misses pudding. He's sitting in a huddle of children who are dressing their homemade tacos with fresh lettuce and shredded cheese. Peter Rawlings, 8, says he likes broccoli and has tried the corn but is "glad I'm not a tomato person, and they can't make me." Alex Giron, also 8, said she brought her lunch -- a Smucker's peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, Doritos, a Fruit Roll-Up and a juice box of lemonade -- because "sometimes I don't like the food here."

October 5, 2005 - (Cheryl Truman in H-L) Petrilli's schools tend to inspire awe in even the most cynical. We all know the odds that Petrilli faces trying to change that most entrenched of bureaucracies, the school lunch, and replace it with lower-fat, higher-protein choices. Last year, I had lunch at my neighborhood high school and managed to emerge with a tray that consisted of equal parts breaded, fried and sugared. Although healthier options are offered, watch a school lunch line and see what kids eat: It's a chicken patty and fries world out there.

October 19, 2005 - (H-L) Booker T. Washington Academy, an inner-city Lexington school, is pointing the way for the rest of this largely rural state with a pilot program that Principal Peggy Petrilli hopes will eventually bloom into a partnership with local farmers to serve fresh food in the school cafeteria.

November 2005 - In November, Silberman tells H-L, "We don't want to come in and change everything and make that the cause of the increase in student achievement. We want to take the current population and faculty and staffs that we have in place and provide them with supports and resources to show what can happen."

January 2005 - Silberman told BTWA parents that much of their children's low-test-score problem could be attributed to the principals and their ability to motivate their staffs. He said principals -- one at a high-scoring school and one at a low-scoring school -- could be switched, and that the scores would flip-flop in two years. He subsequently selected Principal Peggy Petrilli to lead the new academy.

(KSN&C) Time was, when most principals preferred to hire teachers with successful track records. But Petrilli seemed to choose promising rookies. Well-motivated young teachers can become proficient and loyal. But they are also easier to fire if their performance comes up short. Apparently a boat load of teachers failed to meet performance expectations and, like Silberman, Petrilli was not shy about pulling the trigger when she felt her students could perform better under someone else.

The academy started the 2005-2006 academic year with 20 first-year teachers on a total faculty of 40. The approach was not new for Petrilli. In fact, she received acclaim for her aggressive dedication to student achievement results at Northern and was praised for the same approach she used at BTW; and if some adults got bruised in the process - so be it.

Get the right people on the bus. Get the wrong people off the bus. Drive the bus.

And there was never a question about whose hand was on the wheel.
The FCPS investigation report alleged that Petrilli's faculty turnover rate was nearly 50percent, and that,
When Petrilli first arrived at the academy in September 2005, she moved 19 third-graders to second grade without consulting teachers or reviewing past grades, as required by law. The decision was based on how they performed in a series of tests conducted at the beginning of the school year.

FCPS spokeswoman Lisa Deffindall later told H-L, "All of those who were interviewed [during the investigation] confirmed that under Ms. Petrilli's leadership, they engaged in the same practices at Northern" where Petrilli received acclaim for raising test scores.

September 12, 2005 - (KSN&C in H-L) Op-Ed by Richard Day encourages the community to keep an eye on Northern Elementary and Booker T Washington Academy.

October 2005 - Petrilli moved to outlaw sugar from the school cafeteria and forbade the teachers from using candy as a reward in class. She received public accolades for her foresight and courage.

(KSN&C) No compromises; no apologies. That was the approach. Look at the kids. Decide what is best for them. Just do it. Parents and students may grumble now, but they will love it when their children are successful. That's how it was supposed to work.

So great was the desire for success in the Georgetown Street neighborhood that Petrilli was given unusual leeway in implementing her programs. "She was given carte blanche,' one district official told Kentucky School News and Commentary; "She got whatever she wanted."That included the full support of Silberman and some support apparently not available to other schools in the district. Petrilli's singular focus and drive - while valued and encouraged by some - was not universally appreciated.

It apparently rubbed some principals, and many in the district's middle management, the wrong way.I heard so many grumbled comments early on, that they lead me to believe some would have liked nothing more than to see Petrilli fail.
Jealousy? Perhaps. Or perhaps, the sense of an unlevel playing field for schools that have yet to meet their goals.

But love her or hate her, no one ever accused Petrilli of not working hard.

February 28, 2006 - (H-L) Petrilli touts, pre-schoolers tutored individually by University of Kentucky students. A first-grade class performing the Langston Hughes poem Dreams. A fourth-grade class playing Natalie's Dream on their violins. Classrooms no larger than 15 pupils, nutritious school lunches sans sugar and transfats, additional classes after school and on Saturday. "The major mission is for all children to be distinguished academic students and prepared for the rigors of middle school," said Petrilli. "I have a moral obligation to instill in our children hope for the future."

Petrilli spends most of her days scuttling between the intermediate building on Price Road and the primary building on Howard Street. Her work day is often more than 12 hours long... She introduced classes in violin and Spanish for preschool through fourth grade, Latin for fifth-graders, and a rotation of trumpet, clarinet and percussion classes. She also has enforced a dress code...

Her goal is to increase Commonwealth Accountability Testing System scores to a reading goal of 80, a science goal of 80 -- although most of the school is already at 100 in this subject measured through learning checks -- a social studies score of 80 and a math score of 75. This is out of a total of 140 for each subject area. The school's CATS academic index in 2004-05 was 55. The district index was 78.

"They're all behind, and this is them trying to get caught up, and this is my little way of helping," said Brittany Hale, 18, a freshman majoring in clinical and lab sciences.

PTA president Jessica Berry could have sent her 5-year-old kindergartner to Linlee, where she went as a little girl, but applied for an out-of-area request to get her into Booker T. "The different things that (Petrilli) wanted these kids to be able to explore, just to imagine those things to happen in a predominantly minority school and to make sure it happens, it sold me," said Berry.

May 2006 - FCPS investigation report claims that according to witnesses, Petrilli and staff members reviewed completed tests with pencils in hand and discussed students' answers "for hours on end" in a closed room, the report states. On one occasion, somebody suggested changing a student's answer, a witness said. Petrilli denied the accusation.

2006 - (H-L) BTWA snags a Knight Foundation grant of $550,000 " to redesign "teacher preparation programs in childhood and elementary education, create a community involvement program and conduct... an outside evaluation of the entire program to determine its weaknesses and strengths." H-L wrote, "Parents are excited about the changes at Booker T. and hope Petrilli can fulfill the goals set out for the school."

(KSN&C) Well that sounds great but it was not the whole story. A significant number of parents, and others have been concerned about Petrilli's take-no-prisoners style. The grumbling apparently reached a crescendo recently.

State Board of Education member C B Akins, who contributed his support to the Academy initiative and who pastors the nearby Bracktown Baptist Church where many members of the BTW community attend, commented at the June [2007] Kentucky Board of Education meeting that he had been fielding complaints from a number of people in his community about the loss of teachers. He did not specifically mention any particular school.

The FCPS investigation reports that in a two-year period about 100 students were improperly held back a grade at Booker T., in some instances on the first day of tests. Students who were performing poorly on practice tests were selected for demotions, including one student who had grades in the 80s and 90s.

Petrilli misreported the number of students who were not academically promoted, which inflated test scores. In the 2005-06 school year, 62 students were demoted from third to second grade. But Petrilli only reported 43 demotions to the school district.

The report also says the site-based decision-making council drafted only one policy in its first two years.

"This lack of policies permitted Ms. Petrilli and her leadership team to make decisions as they deemed appropriate in areas that are by law, under the authority of the SBDM,"
September 21, 2006 - (H-L) 74 percent of Fayette public schools raised their scores on the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System this year -- up from 50 percent last year -- with three ranking among the top-performing schools in the state, according to data released today. But only 34 percent of schools actually met their goals this year, a drop from 38 percent two years ago. Booker T. Washington Academy [was assigned a score] based on the district average because of changes in student attendance boundaries.

April 24, 2007 - FCPS Investigation reports school secretary Caroline Hellard reported that a student had withdrawn from the fourth grade on March 19, 2007, and re-enrolled as a third-grader the next day. Computer data showed that the demotion actually occurred on April 24, 2007, the first day of testing, according to the report. The student had passed all classes and was less than five weeks from being promoted. However, the student physically remained in the fourth-grade class with the same teacher for the rest of the school year.

June 2007 - (Petrilli's complaint) Petrilli reported to Stu Silberman that a parent of one of the students at Booker T. Washington Academy had engaged in conduct toward her that constituted abuse of a teacher as set forth in KRS 161.190.

Petrilli says BTWA parent Buddy Clark threatened that her "problems were just beginning" when she reported his child for being out-of-district without approval.

"Mr Clark met with Mr Silberman and gave him several demands - not all of them were about hte out-of-area situation... Mr Silberman told me not to worry about it...and ordered me not to turn in Mr. Clark's child for anything."

July 26, 2007 - William "Buddy" Clark forwarded an e-mail to his wife, Alva, and site-based decision making council member Jessica Berry. A month before confronting the Fayette school district superintendent with complaints about Booker T. Washington Academy Principal Peggy Petrilli, a parent urged the principal's critics to compile a list of everything that negatively affected black parents, "no matter how inconsequential it appears." Petrilli's lawyers later claim the e-mail is the "smoking gun;" proof that Petrilli's departure from the predominantly black elementary school was racially motivated. Petrilli later accuses Silberman of illegally forcing her to resign to placate her black critics...

Summer 2007 - FCPS investigation report states,

Students' private files, which include grades and test scores, were left unsecured in the school library...
August 12, 2007 - (H-L) Chess, cup-stacking (a game that enhances motor skills) and other strategic games are announced at BTWA.

On or about August 2007 - (Petrilli's complaint) Peggy Petrilli reported to her supervisor, Carmen Coleman, that the site-based council at Booker T. Washington Academy had engaged in conduct that constituted abuse of a teacher, as prohibited by KRS 161.190. Subsequent to Peggy Petrilli's report to Carmen Coleman, Ms. Petrilli notified Stu Silberman of the abuse she had received from the site-based council at Booker T. Washington Academy.

(Silberman Court Document) Silberman met with BTWA parent Buddy Clark to discuss his child's "schooling at BTWA."

August, 2007 - (Petrilli deposition) "Before school started in August 2007, I met with Mr and Mrs Clark again...The Clarks demanded to have the classroom painted, to have a better computer for the classroom, and to ahve a personal tutor for their child. that Clarks also stated that there were not enough black leaders at BTWA add that I needed to fix the situation...Mr Silberman admitted to me that if I had not turned the Clarks in, none of this would have happened."

August 22, 2007 - There was a meeting between the Silberman and a number of disgruntled BTWA parents and other supporters of the school.
Court documents identify attendees as:
Jock (sic) Wiggington
Katherine Warner
Jessica Berry
Alva and Buddy Clark
Georgia Powell
Carmen Coleman
Kim Nichols
Larry Conners, and
Cynthia Kay

Silberman is presented with 2 1/2 pages of grievances including:
* the use of disciplinary tactics not approved by the school council, including "kids being grabbed by the arm, cheeks squeezed, fingers pointed in faces."
* meager funding for special education and low-income students.
* poor teacher retention and high teacher turnover. * low numbers of African-American and Hispanic teachers to reflect the diversity of the student population.
* inappropriate cultural comments and phrases, including the use of "gigolo man" and "these people."
* concerns about grant allocations, "misappropriation of funds" and a failure to involve the school's site-based decision-making council in budget decisions.
* poor-performing students being held in a grade to keep them from testing in the next year.
* school officials standing over students while being tested.
* retaliation against parents for coming forward with complaints.

The parents asked for a curriculum and financial audit, a test-score investigation, an evaluation of teacher turnover at the school, and a new principal "who will encourage greater ethical, moral, and educational standards as well as cultural appreciation toward all of our families."

Petrilli's complaint would later state,

The meeting was held in secret and violated KRS 160.345(9) (a), which prohibits a practice that is detrimental to the successful implementation of, or circumvents the intent of, school-based decision making and did not allow Peggy Petrilli to be involved in the decision making process in working toward educational goals.

August 23, 2007 - Petrilli's complaint states,

Stu Silberman advised Peggy Petrilli that she could no longer be the Principal of Booker T. Washington Academy and that she either had to resign or retire. Stu Silberman's decision was based on race.

There was a meeting with Silberman, Petrilli and Elementary Director Carmen Coleman.

(KSN&C) Whatever happened at this point is at the heart of Peggy Petrilli's suit against Stu Silberman.

The district simply says, "she resigned." Silberman declined to comment on the parent's specific concerns telling the Herald-Leader it was a "moot point" since Petrilli was leaving.

hat is less clear is whether, at the end of her meeting with Silberman, Petrilli had the option to stay.

So, KSN&C wrote to Silberman to ask. He responded,

It never got to the point where Peggy ever asked to return to BTWA. As soon as we shared the concerns that were raised she decided that she did not want to go back. So, it never got to the point where that even had to be discussed.

In court documents, however, Silberman and Carmen Coleman assert that Petrilli was not fired, in fact, they say, they offered her the principalship back at Northern Elementary. (By state law, it would not typically be possible for a superintendent to simply offer a principalship, but at the time, Northern was being served by an interim principal. She could have been placed there, and then compete to regain her old position. If the offer occurred it apparently was seen as an unpalatable option by Petrilli.)

Petrilli asserts, "I asked Mr Silberman if I could assist with the opening of some of the new schools. He told me absolutely not. He said he talked to the entire cabinet and not a single one of them had a job for me. He also said I was not well liked...To my knowledge no investigation had been done concerning any of the allegations before I was told that I must resign or retire. In fact, between the time in which the secret meeting with the parents of BTWA occurred and the following day, when Mr Silberman and Ms Coleman met with me, there was no time to launch an investigation into, much less verify, and of the complaints lodged against me. Instead ... I was ordered to resign or retire."

Later, August 23, 2007 - Wienberg & McCauley Affidavits asserts,

Petrilli calls Alice Weinberg; "...she was hysterical." Meets with Weinberg and McCauley. Petrilli tells them Silberman told her "she could either resign or retire." Says Silberman told her that black "parents had threatened to picket."
August 24, 2007 - Wienberg and McCauley Affidavits state,

Silberman meets with leadership team at BTWA. Silberman explained that he met with "very angry, hostile parents." Silberman analogized the situation to, Remember the Titans, declares BTWA is "broken" and racially divided. Parent Robin Ogbulu tells Weinberg if she wanted to stay at BTWA she should "get in with (PTA President and school council member) Jessica Berry."
August 25, 2007 - (H-L) Two weeks into the school year, the principal of Booker T. Washington Academy has told Fayette school board officials that she will be leaving the elementary school, Superintendent Stu Silberman said. Petrilli declined to comment... (The H-L story appeared on the 26th.)

(KSN&C) This development is a serious blow for the school district that established the Academy to prove to the public that achievement gaps could be closed in all communities - even those entrenched in generational poverty - and that the BTW Academy would "become a model across the state."
An ugly email hits in-boxes at BTWA saying, "the truth will come out and you will all be going down!"

Silberman tells KSN&C,

"I am seriously not aware of any taxpayer money missing. What we will do in this situation is the same as we would do in any situation where concerns are raised - we take them seriously and look into them and take appropriate action to either discard the issues or deal with them."
On or about August 25-26, 2007 - Petrilli's complaint states,

Stu Silberman called Peggy Petrilli at home on multiple occasions and demanded that she either retire or resign. Mr. Silberman instructed Ms. Petrilli that she must make a decision to retire or resign and have it on his desk the first thing Monday morning.
Weinberg Affidavit states,

"Throughout the weekend...Carmen Coleman called me numerous times to reiterate that Peggy needed to contact Carmen or Stu and let them know what she had decided to do immediately." Weinberg says it was clear Stu had given Petrilli an
ultimatum. Coleman says Petrilli "should cooperate because Stu has a lot of pull in the state, flawless reputation, and Peggy needed to keep their relationship positive for her benefit."
August 27, 2007 - Petrilli's complaint states,

Stu Silberman again informed Peggy Petrilli that she would not be allowed to go back to her position as Principal of Booker T. Washington Academy. In addition, she was instructed by Mr. Silberman to resign or retire or else she would be suspended from her employment and an investigation would be started. As a result of Stu Silberman's threats and intimidation, which were based on race, Peggy Petrilli found her work environment to be intolerable and was thereby constructively discharged from her position as Principal of Booker T. Washington Academy.

It is still unclear what options Petrilli had to consider but District spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall told the Herald-Leader (May 3, 2008) that "Petrilli had the option of being suspended with pay while the investigation was pending."

Silberman met with faculty members to discuss Petrilli's departure.

August 27, 2007 – Petrilli’s resignation letter states, in its entirety, “I hereby resign my position in the Fayette County Schools” with no effective date. Handwritten, with Walther and Allen’s initials.

“(3) Ms Petrilli will not apply or employment with Fayette County Schools at any time in the future.”Aug 28, 2007 Email from Petrilli’s original attorney Jeff Walther to Brenda Allen contains Petrilli’s public statement and this:“Given that Peggy is still an employee, consider whether the statement ought to be released by the district.”

August 28, 2007 - (H-L) Petrilli issues statement:

"I stand behind our work at Booker T. The academic achievement of our students has been my life's work, my passion, my ministry.

After having a heart-to-heart conversation with [Fayette County Superintendent]Stu [Silberman] and [Director] Carmen [Coleman], it is evident that despite my best efforts, and the fact that I did the best I could do, I recognize that I could not build trust with a group of parents...

It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to leave Booker T. Washington for the sake of our students... I ask everyone to stay focused on high academic standards, a safe and orderly environment, a high-quality professional staff and most of all, our incredibly high-achieving, motivated and bright students."

Silberman met in closed session with the site-based decision-making council to discuss an interim and permanent replacement principal. Says he is considering retired administrators for the job.

August 31, 2007 - (Court Doc) FCPS General Counsel Brenda Allen wrote an email to Stu Silberman and copied Carmen Coleman. Coleman responded to Allen with her agreement and Silberman's response. At the time of this writing, that document is subject to seal by the court. Being knowlegeable of this fact, KSN&C is not publishing the document Plaintiff's attorney J Dale Golden calls "the crux of his case."

H-L reports details of BTWA parents' letter of grievances. Silberman told H-L district staff members have been assigned to investigate the allegations.

Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross said that the state had "received no allegations related to CATS (testing) improprieties at Booker T."

BTWA's PTA president Jessica Berry wouldn't talk directly about the allegations. She said discontent with Petrilli's leadership was widespread. "There were a lot of parents who had concerns"

September 1, 2007 - BTWA parent Buddy Clark blogs,

The extreme emphasis on testing in the public schools has had some unfortunate consequences at BTWA. Administrators were so focused on testing that they forgot about education. Those administrators forgot their obligation to “teach” honesty and integrity.

September 4, 2007 - Jock Gum named interim principal - for his "people skills." Gum said. "My job is to get everybody sitting on the same side of the fence. It'll take a while."

September 2007 - Booker T. Washington Academy posted double-digit gains in both reading and math scores for all subgroups, which include African-American, low-income and special needs students. Scores are under question.

Early September 2008 - " Fayette County Board Attorney Brenda Allen received the assignment to investigate the BTWA complaints. The exact date is not provided in her report. At some point after FCPS discovered that numerous BTWA students were moved the district examined records from other schools, looking for similar patterns, and found none.

October 18, 2007 - KSN&C reported,

...some Fayette school administrators apparently need reassurance. The concern in the trenches is whether Silberman would "have their backs" if parents complained as principals kicked their programs into high gear." Since KERA school principals do not enjoy tenure in their administrative positions, which makes them extremely easy to demote.
November 13, 2007 - Stu Silberman confirmed at a Long Term Policy Research Center meeting that Booker T Washington Academy is internally still "under investigation." Silberman clarifies,

"I did not say that Peggy was under investigation. I was asked to discuss the scores at BTW and I said that I couldn’t discuss those because those scores were currently being investigated but I could respond to what principals try to do to close gaps."
November 23, 2007 - (News-Democrat & Leader (Russellville, KY) ...let's recall the good ole days when quality teachers and dedicated principals were backed up by bosses at the central office and parents at home. It s not that way anymore, at least not in Lexington. The home-office types have pushed out overachieving and underappreciated principal Peggy Petrilli at Booker T. Washington Elementary School, a school created by merging two of the city s worst-performing schools filled with students from low-income families. Despite leading an academic turnaround, including a meteoric 76-percent rise in math test scores during her short time at the school, she apparently drew the ire of some who preferred the status quo. On top of that, she s received little heartfelt public support from superintendent Stu Silberman about her performance at Booker T.

December 19, 2007 -Petrilli was interview by FCPS attorney Allen, to "clear her name," in the presence of Silberman, Petrilli's original attorney Jeff Walther, and former FCPS director Bob McLaughlin. According to the FCPS investigation report,

Petrilli acknowledged that she had authorized employees to demote students in the days leading up to tests and held students back solely on their performance in practice tests. "I did the same thing when I was principal at Northern," she said. "Is that wrong? I had parent permission." She was then asked, "Regardless of what you told the parent and what they agreed to, how can that be a legitimate educational practice? How can a student have been determined to have completed all of the requirements of fourth grade in 2007 and then be demoted, not retained, but demoted back to the third grade in April 2007 on the first day of CATS testing? How do you have the authority to just declare a 'do-over?'" She then responded, "It's what's best for kids."
February 7, 2008 - Petrilli talks about turning around struggling schools after Bluegrass institute's Chris Derry hooks her up with Women of Web 2.0, an internet webcast.

February 8, 2008 - Petrilli sues Silberman. The suit charges Silberman and Carmen Coleman, Fayette Schools Director, with manufacturing evidence, creating an intolerable work environment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violating her civil rights. The suit asks for compensatory and punitive damages. The Fayette County Board of Education is also listed as a co-defendant. Complaint states,

Stu Silberman and Carmen Coleman knew at all times pertinent to this Complaint that the motivating cause behind the complaints from the site-based council and a group of parents regarding Peggy Petrilli were based on the fact that Peggy Petrilli is Caucasian and the disgruntled individuals were unhappy because they had been told by Stu Silberman that they would have input into the hiring of the next principal who they wanted to be African-American.
"I'm completely shocked that Ms. Petrilli is making these kinds of allegations," said Silberman (in H-L Feb 9), adding that he hadn't been formally served with the lawsuit. "I think to try to turn that situation into a race issue is totally ridiculous."

February 8, 2008 – Judge James D Ishmael randomly assigned to the case.

March 3, 2008 – Answer to Plaintiff’s Complaint.

“…Plaintiff was never discharged, or threatened with disciplinary actions, nor forced to resign…”“Plaintiff made admissions of fact contrary to the legal position she has taken in this litigation on the issue of race discrimination, constructive discharge and/or retaliation…”

March 7, 2008 – Plaintiff requests production of documents.

March 21, 2008 – Plaintiff served Responses to Requests for admissions.

March 26, 2008 – Letter from McNeill to Golden.

April 1, 2008 – Letter from Thompson to McNeill.

April 2, 2008 – Letter from McNeill to attorney Melissa Thompson (of Golden & Walters)

April 18, 2008 - African American Wendy Brown named principal of BTWA.

April 22, 2008 – Plaintiff Peggy Petrilli’s Answers to Interrogatories and Responses to Requests for Production of Documents.

April 23, 2008 - FCPS board attorney Brenda Allen submits her investigation report, much of which is referred to chronologically in this listing.

The report substantiated a number of allegations including, that Petrilli had consistently directed staff to mark a suspended child as "sick" so as not to invoke and ARC for change of placement; and that Petrilli had retaliated against a parent who had questioned Petrili's actions while asserting her rights as an SBDM member. The report cited Petrilli's poor teacher retention rate and high turnover at nearly 50% annually and that poor children were charged excess fees for field trips regardless of fee waivers.

Petrilli's attorney J. Dale Golden said she did not break a single law and suggested the report is designed to discredit Petrilli's lawsuit against the school district. Golden said Superintendent Stu Silberman forced Petrilli to resign, suggesting political expediency was at work.

April 29, 2008 – Plaintiff served Answers to Interrogatories and Requests for Production of documents

April 29, 2008 – Plaintiff served Supplemental Request for Documents

April 30, 2008 – Plaintiff asks Defense for Response to Interrogatories…Documents

May 1, 2008 - BTWA assessment coordinator Leigh McCauley resigned citing family and business obligations.

May 3, 2008 - (H-L) Ex-principal 'driven by test scores':

In just one year under Peggy Petrilli 's leadership, test scores improved dramatically at Booker T. Washington Academy in 2006. And in her six years at Northern Elementary -- another poor, low-performing school -- the jump in scores was even greater. The achievement won national attention and led to Petrilli being named state principal of the year in 2005. Some called it the Northern miracle. But a sweeping investigation recently completed by the Fayette County school board calls those gains into question. And it may lead to a wider probe by the Kentucky Department of Education.

May 4, 2008 - Anonymous complaint calls for OEA investigation of FCPS.

May 12, 2008 - Plaintiff files Motion to Compel. (in H-L May 14)

Petrilli filed a motion to amend her reverse discrimination lawsuit in Fayette Circuit Court to include the report's author, school board attorney Brenda D. Allen, as a defendant. It also sought to expand the lawsuit to include several new claims, including alleged defamation, conspiracy and abuse of process.
May 13 2008 - H-L opines, No magic beans in education: Petrilli case should be object lesson,

The most amazing thing about all this is how eager everyone was to be gulled, to believe that all it takes is the right principal for kids who have almost no advantages to suddenly knock the lid off standardized tests.

KSN&C responded,

No one was more eager to be gulled than the editorial board at the Herald-leader. ... H-L helped spread the news of the magic beans and didn't want anyone to get in the way of the narrative. They wanted to print the legend.

H-L claims it has learned a lesson from setting Petrilli up on that pedestal. Now they are fighting to keep Silberman up there.

May 14, 2008 – Defendants Oppose Motion to Amend

“The plaintiff is attempting to gerrymand history by connecting activities concluding after her resignation from her post in August 2007 as a causal basis for her suit filed in February.”

May 14, 2008 – Defendants Reply to Motion to Compel – given volume of requests, requests 30 days after May 16th hearing to comply.

May 15, 2008 – Defendants Response in Opposition to Motion to Amend Complaint

May 16, 2008 - Hearing on Motions

May 19, 2008 – Orders issued on Court hearing; Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel SUSTAINED – 30 days after May 16th; Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint SUSTAINED over objection

May 19, 2008 - Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint Filed“The Defendant [Brenda Allen]’s investigative report, dated April 23, 2008, is evidence of practice, custom and habit of the Fayette County Board of Education.”“The investigative report…was an attempt by the defendants to manufacture evidence…”

May 20, 2008 - Plaintiff served First set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents on Brenda Allen

May 29, 2008 - Plaintiff, Peggy Petrilli, Answers to Interrogatories and Responses to Requests for Production of documents.

May 30, 2008 - Letter from Thompson to McNeill – Plaintiff’s plan to depose: Stu Silberman, Carmen Coleman, Brenda Allen, Jock Gum, Jessica Berry, Alva Clark, Bob McLaughlin and Alice Weinberg.

June 2, 2008 – Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Claims Raised in Amended Complaint and to Dismiss Brenda Allen as a Defendant

June 2, 2008 – Defendant’s Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss Claims Raised in Amended Complaint and to Dismiss Brenda Allen as a Defendant.“…Brenda Allen…is entitled to immunity in both her official and individual capacities…”

June 4, 2008 - Letter from McNeill to Thompson.

June 4, 2008 - (H-L) Principal not forced out, board says. Documents say Fayette schools negotiated.

June 5, 2008 – Plaintiff’s Response to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Claims Raised in Amended Complaint and to Dismiss Brenda Allen as a Defendant

June 6, 2008 - Hearing before Judge Ishmael.

Golden's due process argument is that if FCPS had an obligation under law it was
pursuant to KRS 161.120 (2) (a):. If that's the case they failed to meet the requirements because the report was 8 months late. "It's a checkmate, Golden said."Or, if FCPS did not have an obligation to report "then the whole defense for why it's not defamatory fails," Golden said.

June 9, 2008 - Defendant’s Answer to First Amended Complaint

June 9, 2008 – Defendant’s Motion to Compel Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions

June 9, 2008 – Defendant’s Motion to Compel Full answers to Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents

June 12, 2008 – Plaintiff’s Response to Defendant’s Motion to Compel Full answers to Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents and Defendant’s Motion to Compel Complete Responses to Requests for Admissions

June 12, 2008 - Reply to Plaintiff’s Response to Motion to Compel Full answers to Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents and Production of Documents and Requests for Admissions

June 13, 2008 – Hearing

June 16, 2008 – Plaintiff served Supplemental Response to Interrogatory

June 17, 2008 – Hearing

June 20, 2008 – Letter from Thompson to McNeill

June 24, 2008 - McNeill Letter to Thompson.

"Stu Silberman is available to be deposed on July 31, 2008, beginning as 9:00 am at the offices of Landrum & Shouse."

June 26, 2008 - Thompson Letter to McNeill.

"We will be taking Stu Silberman's deposition on July 31, 2008 at 9:00 am here at Golden & Walters."

June 26, 2008 – Plaintiff’s Second Motion to Compel

June 27, 2008 - McNeil Letter to Thompson.

"You obviously did not read my letter closely. We will not be producing our clients at your offices. If you wish to depose Stu Silberman, Ms. Coleman, Mr McLaughlin, and Principal gum, those depositions will be at our offices at Landrum & Shouse as I set forth in my letter."

July 1, 2008 - Defendant, Stu Silberman's , Answers and Responses to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents.

July 3, 2008 – Defendant, Carmen Coleman’s Answers and Responses to Plaintiff’s First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents.

July 3, 2008 - Defendant, Board of Education, Answers and Responses to Plaintiff’s First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents. Responds to discovery

July 7, 2008 - Supplement to Plaintiff's Second Motion to Compel "Defendants Answers to the Discovery Provided the Plaintiff with little to no information about the key Events."

July 7, 2008 - Motion to Limit Duration of the Plainfitt's Deposition.

"...she shouldbe prepared to endure 'an extremely long day' since Defendants wish to 'conclude her deposition in one day, even if it is long.' " Limit to one day of seven hours.

July 9, 2008 - Defendant's Response to Plaintiffr's Second Motion to Compel.

July 9, 2008 - Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Limit Duration of her Discovery Deposition.

July 10, 2008 - Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Supplemental Motion to Compel.

July 10, 2008 - Plaintiff's Reply to Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Second Motion to Compel. "No serious attempt to Respond..."

July 18, 2008 - Plaintiff's Notice of Cancellation of Videotape Depositions.

July 21, 2008 - Defendant's Clarification to Notice of Cancellation.

July 23, 2008 - Defendant's Reply & Objection to Plaintiff's Second Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents.

July 24, 2008 - Hearing before Judge Ishmael. (22-3-08 CD #119 @ 3:09 pm)

July 25, 2008 - Notice of Statements filed Under Seal for In Camera Review.

July 30, 2008 - Defendant's Notice of Videotape Depostion and Subpoena Duces Tecum. Petrilli deposition set for August 18th at 9 am at the offices of Golden & Walters.

August 1, 2008 - Notice of Videotape Deposition of Stu Silberman with Request for Production of Documents. Silberman set for August 28th at 9 am in the offices of Golden & Walters. Coleman, August 27th at 9 am at Golden. McLaughlin August 27th at 12 pm at Golden. Gum August 26th at 9 am at Golden.

August 4, 2008 - Motion for Reconsideration or, in the alternative, Motion for Clarification.

August 5, 2008 - Production of Documents Pursuant to Court's Order.

August 14, 2008 - Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration or, in the alternative, Motion for Clarification.

August 14, 2008 - Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Production of Documents Pursuant to Court Order Regarding Brenda Allen in her Individual Capacity. To dismiss Allen as defendant.

August 15, 2008 - Hearing before Ishmael. (22-3-08 CD#124) 1:18 pm.

August 20, 2008 - Defendant's Notice of Completion of Videotape Deposition of Plaintiff, Peggy Petrilli.

August 21, 2008 - Notice of Deposition and Subpoena Duces Tecum. Jessica Berry, Sept 9, 9 am, at Golden. Alva Clark, Sept 10, 9 am at Golden. Buddy Clark, Sept 9, 9am at Golden.

August 22, 2008 - Amended notice of Videotape Deposition and Subpoena Duces Tecum. Alva Clark, Sept 10, 9 am at Golden. Buddy clark, Sept 9, 9am at Golden. Jessica Berry, Sept 9, 9 am at Golden.

August 28, 2008 - McNeill Letter to Golden. "We take the position that you have waived your right to take their depositions in the future."

August 29, 2008 - Defendant's Notice of Completion of Videotape Deposition of Plaintiff, Peggy Petrilli. Began August 18, Continued August 26, Resume Sept 10.

September 2, 2008 - Plaintiff's Motion for Order, Pursuant to CR 300.04 and CR 37.01 (d), Stopping Any Further Harassment During Depositions and Motion for Costs.

September 2, 2008 - Defendant's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment on Defamation Claims Against All Defendants. Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion.

September 4, 2008 - Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Order Pursuant to Civil Rules 30.04 and 37.01 Regarding Deposition conduct. "It appears once again Counsel for the Plaintiff is running to the trial court purporting to be the paragon of professional conduct which is falser than a crocodile's tears."

September 5, 2008 - Plaintiff's Supplemental Motion for Order Pursuant to CR 30.04 and CR 37.01 (d), stopping any further Harassment during Depositions and Motion for Costs and Sanctions.

September 5, 2008 - Hearing before Judge Ishmael. (22-3-08 CD #141) 9:15 am.

Judge tells Petrilli and Silberman's attorneys to "play nice." Then sends them out for a milkshake.

September 11, 2008 - Notice of Videotape Deposition for Stu Silberman with Request for Production of Documents. Silberman scheduled for Sept 30, 9 am at Golden. Coleman scheduled for Sept 29, 9 am at Golden.

September 12, 2008 - Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment on Behalf of Carmen Coleman and Motion for Summary Judgment Regarding All Defamation Claims.

"The Defendant's incorrectly assert that if an employer can coerce an employer to resing, that the act is voluntary and thereby precludes an action for constructive discharge...Case law clearly holds that voluntariness is vitiated employee resings under duress...submits a resignation under time pressure."

September 12, 2008 - Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Supplemental Motion for Order Pursuant to Civil Rule 30.04 and Civil Rule 32.01 Regarding Deposition Conduct.

September 17, 2008 - Affidavit of Alice Weinberg

September 18, 2008 - Defendant's Reply to Plaintiff's Response to defense Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of Carmen Coleman and Motion for Summary Judgment Regarding All Defamation Claims.

September 19, 2008 - Amended Notice of Videotape Deposition for Bob McLaughlin with Requeswt for Production of Documents. Scheduled for Sept 29, 11 am at Golden.

September 19, 2008 - Affidavit of Leigh McCauley.

September 22, 2008 - Notice of Continuation of Videotape Deposition of Plaintiff, Peggy Petrilli.

September 24, 2008 - Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint

September, 24, 2008 - Amended Complaint Against All Defendants, Causation and Punitive Damages.

September 24, 2008 - Hearing with Judge Ishmael. (#22-3-08 CD # 158) 2 pm.

Judge Tossed Defamation Claim.

September 24, 2008 - Order: Plaintiff's Motion on Alleged Behavior of Defense Counsel Held in Abeyance.

September 24, 2008 - Order: Motion to Dismiss Brenda Allen in her official capacity - Granted. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Allen in her personal capacity - Denied. Defense Motion to Dismiss Count 3 (abuse fo Proces) on Amended Complaint - Granted. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count 5 (civil conspiracy) - Granted. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count 4 (defamation) - Denied.

September 24, 2008 - Order on Motion to Compel Defendants to Fully Answer and Request Production of Documents.

September 29. 2008 - Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Against All Defendants.

October 1, 2008 - Defendant's Motion of compliance with the Court's Order of September 24, 2008, Regarding Defense Answers toPlaintiff's Written Discovery.

October 2, 2008 - Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Against All Defendants.

October 9, 2008 - Order. Defendant's Renewed Motion for Sumary Judgment as to Plaintiffr's Defamation Claims - Granted.

October 31, 2008 - Motion to Set Pretrial Conference and Trial Date.

October 31, 2008 - Notice of Videotape Deposition of Barbara Conner. Set for Nov 13, 9 am at Golden.

November 10, 2008 - Order. Defense Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint - Denied.

November 13, 2008 - Amended Notice of Videotape Depositionof Barbara Conner with Request for Production of Documents.

November 18, 2008 - Defense Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Pretrial Conference and Trial Date.

November 18, 2008 - Defendant's Renewed Motion to Compel Plaintiff to Comply with Court Order.

November 18, 2008 - Defendant's Motion for More Definitive Statement.

November 20, 2008 - Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Renewed Motion to Comply with Court Order.

November 22, 2008 - Hearing before Judge Ishmael. (22-3-08 CD #195) 8:42 am.

November 25, 2008 - Motion for Release of Statements Filed Under Seal for In Camera Review.

Defense argues Alice Weinberg & Leigh McCauley spoke to attorney Golden
about Petrilli and their own potential complaints created attorney-client privilege. Plaintiff submitted their statements under seal. Then, Plaintiff produced the documents.

November 25, 2008 - Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of Defendant Carmen Coleman in her official and individual capacities as to all claims of the Plaintiff.

Most source material obtained from court documents and by a Newsbank search. Much of the unattributed H-L reporting is attributable to Raviya Ismail and Brandon Ortiz: some source material at KSN&C; light editing throughout. Where exact dates are unknown, placement of items on the chronology are approximate. KSN&C readers are encouraged to provide more specific information with citations if I've missed something.