Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Random Thoughts on Dr. Hicks Departure

1. I don't feel like celebrating.
2. Financial shenanigans aside, Hick's should have been removed primarily for the districts academic failings.
3. There is not a person alive today that can turn around RUSD. It will take a village. Oops, that won't work either.
4. Will local voucher opponents now stop citing the Milwaukee voucher school principal with the dozen Mercedes? RUSD is obviously no better, and is conceivably far worse, at managing public money.
5. Will Racine's elites apologize for their misguided support of Dr. Hicks? In case you don't know who you are, you are the Racine Journal Times, The Johnson Companies representatives, and RAMAC, to name a few.
6. Will we try something different this time, like, say, openly and honestly addressing the multitude of issues that preclude the possibility of meaningful internal reforms at RUSD? Among those are disruptive students who get shuffled around to different schools, teachers that can't teach and can't be fired, and excellent teachers who can't be given the raises that they deserve.
7. If the same nonsense that happens routinely at Unified were to happen at private schools, parents would pull their children out and send them to a better school. Those children would be better off. Unified students won't be so lucky. Is it for the children or isn't it?
8. Will the next superintendent please speak plain English? I am tired of the purposefully confusing and meaningless eduspeak that comes out of the central office.
9. If we can't make Unified better, can we at least make it smaller?
10. There is little point in bashing Dr. Hicks now. Instead we should bash ourselves and resolve not to make the same mistakes again. Do we even know what those mistakes were?


Brenda said...

Mistake Number 1: Policy Governance

Their decision-making philosophy that allowed the superintendent near-automous control over the checkbook, hiring decisions, etc. RUSD was bad enough (handling money and decisions) before this "new way of governing" took effect in January 2006.

The problem should be obivious to anyone who read the Audit Report - little or no oversight appears as a finding in nearly every section.

Policy Governance = No oversight

Moreover, the superintendent DID NOT do anything the RUSD board did not allow him to do.

Furthermore, Hicks and PBCG are not guilty of a crime; the only thing they are guilty of is greed and capitalism.

We have the board to thank for this mess!!!

Thanks for letting me vent, Denis.

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Very interesting, Denis. I'm hopeful you, Brenda, Kat and whoever is well versed in Unified's underpinnings, will be front and center and very vocal during this transition period and as the search for a new superintendent begins.

Brenda, have to take a little issue with the capitalism thing. RUSD is a government entity - funded with taxpayer money, controlled by elected officials. Basic account reconciliation, even with the ENRONs of the world, is performed on at least a monthly basis. That part of this report still is mind boggling to me. This was a manipulation of a government bureaucracy (the easiest, btw, to manipulate...think of welfare assistance of the last few decades) and a resulting legal swindling of the taxpayers. RUSD will need to provide complete transparency in the future with regard to all financial accounting if they want to regain any trust with the taxpayers (voters.)

But I do agree 100% about the Policy Governance- none, or much less, of this happens if our elected officials maintain oversight. My question to you and Denis (and anyone else reading) would be do you believe it's just simple incompetence on the part of the board, or outside influences (pressure) that played the largest part in this debacle?

Brenda said...

In response to Caledonia Unplugged, I believe no one can be that incompetent. Outside influence and pressure are most definitely the culprits here.

Regarding my capitalism argument, let me rephase it. The only thing that PBCG is guilty of is negotiating a good contract and last I checked that wasn't against the law.

I think what PBCG and Hicks have done is devasting, slimy, underhanded and completely unethical. But last I checked we cannot have them measured for orange jumpsuits for those same actions.

My only hope is that the board (along with their new attornies) find a way (i.e. negligence)to break the PBCG contract so we do not have to pay the millions and millions in unbilled incentives.

Anonymous said...

One of the best ways to shake up the parents of the District is to implement a 100% voucher plan, no restrictions or exceptions. Wide open.
We ALL allowed this (whatever it is) to happen.
We ALL deserve a choice.

Denis Navratil said...

I am with you anon on the voucher thing. The reason is accountability. Right now there is none. Nobody is coming forward to apologize for the whole six year Hicks mess. Asses are being covered all over town.

Brenda, while I am no fan of Policy Governance, keep in mind that it is relatively new, while RUSD has been a mess for decades. So I won't give it quite the importance that you do for Unified's failings.

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Denis, I don't want to put words in brenda's mouth, but I think she's referring to Policy Governance as being responsible for the "recent mess"...PBCG, etc., and I agree.

Certainly policy governance has little to do with a school district that's been in decline for years and socio-economic factors that may never improve.

But lack of oversight is, without a doubt, a main cause of these dubious consultant contracts...along with a majority of board members bought and paid for courtesy of our so-called local business leaders.

Brenda said...

Unified has many failings - poor graduation rates, poor test scores, violence in our schools.

But the latest failing, is directly related to their new way of doing business. Spending money without board approval is BAD!!!

Spending taxpaydollars without sufficient oversight is a problem.

Gateway got themselves in a mess with CATI:

And everyone knows about the Milwaukee Public Museum's spending problems:

While these events are not directly related, it is suspicious that both organizations spend money like drunken sailors without oversight. They have Policy Governance...

In fact, our "style" of Policy Goverance is directly modeled after Gateway's. I remember when they (Gateway) came to make the original presentation. Left that meeting knowing that this would come back to haunt the board.

Okay, I'm done now...