Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Transparency, Part II: An Example

[First Read: Transparency, Part 1: What Do We Mean]

Just yesterday, I found the perfect example of what I mean when I say that there is a lack of transparency in the district. I get an email from my kid’s high school, asking me to take a survey about the possibility of a county-wide International Baccalaureate program. (I linked to the survey here.) The email assured me that “NO FINAL DECISION HAS BEEN MADE, but the county-wide IB Committee would like to determine if there is interest.”

OK, so—on the topic of the International Baccalaureate program—I don’t know all that much. I know a few kids who go to schools that use that model (one in Oakland County, one in South Bend). It isn’t an option I’m interested in, but there might be some people who are interested in it. So this is neither an endorsement or rejection of the idea.

Here are some of my questions about it:
Why is it being considered? There are a zillion and one things in the AAPS strategic plan. Specifically, what problem are we trying to solve by creating a new program at this time?
Is this the best solution to that problem?
If it is an important program, why not create it as a small magnet program at Huron or Pioneer?Why is it important to have it as a county-wide consortium, and what will that mean for Ann Arbor? Would it affect any of our other high schools?

How much will it cost?

But that is a little bit of a digression. Let’s return to the process question. I tried searching the AAPS web site to find out more about the International Baccalaureate program, and the only things that turned up were references to the strategic plan, or (in board meeting minutes), to pursuing the IB possibility because of the strategic plan.There is nothing that gives me any information at all about what an IB program includes.

The email refers to the county-wide IB Committee, but I could find no references to the committee on the AAPS web site. So, who exactly is on this committee?

A general Google search referred me to an article by David Jesse in, from September 2nd, 2009 (yes, that is 3 months ago) which says:
A countywide program for advanced students will “very likely” be started by the fall of 2011, Ann Arbor school Superintendent Todd Roberts said Wednesday.
So—a decision has been made? Or, according to the email I got, it hasn’t been made? It sounds to me as if the only thing missing is a final stamp of approval. Saying that “no decision has been made,” and asking for a survey to assess interest, when officials have publicly said it is very likely to happen is—at best—disingenuous. At least, when I ask for transparency, what I’m asking for is that the district:  a) share the process, not just the end results and b) tell the (whole) truth.

[Read on: Transparency, Part 3: How to Thank A Teacher]


  1. Danger! Danger! You are asking too many questions! NO ONE questions the reasons the almighty IB is brought into a district! Soon they'll be telling you to sing, "I Believe".

    Personally, I prefer I B Leave!

  2. Here in Ypsi, we were told by the new superintendent that there would be town halls or similar involving a variety of stakeholder groups, in order to discuss budget priorities. I believe those groups were to start meeting in January.

    At last week's school board meeting, the board was presented with a list of potential cuts, which the board was expected to prioritize and submit, ON THE SPOT. The board had not even seen the list beforehand. After protests by the board members, they were granted one week to complete the task (the week including the holiday), with very little hard data to work with.
    This time frame was to coincide with a December 15 deadline for submitting the deficit reduction plan to the state.

    So I'm wondering, if the administration uses the prioritizing of the board members to recommend cuts by 12/15, how does that community input part fit in?

    Seems like that list could be posted online for a start on that input.

    - YpsiAnon

  3. You're not going to get the whole truth and nothing but the truth from Roberts et al.They work by hearing things, and responding in
    their way behind the scenes without leaving fingerprints.This happens frequently, really frequently .This crowd banks on being "the good guys," they will really take care of things, trust 'em. And while they do work, that lack of transparency is the Achilles heel of the whole administration. There's a lot of
    things that aren't going right, and they don't want to draw attention to that, because the problem doesn't get fixed, it gets worse, because no one wants to 'fess up.
    Minority achievement is one such problem, the funding crisis will be another, the principal shuffle done this year is a third.
    The administration is always mad at parents it seems,and it forgets who they work for. True ownership of problems, not bandaiding and putting them in the back room is when things get better.

    Todd Roberts has lots of good traits at being superintendent, being transparent isn't one of them.

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