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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Camden Schools - ACTION NOW!

Today's Courier-Post has yet another article about the poor administrative state of the Camden City School District. This investigation centers on the fact that the district has not been keeping truancy records, sending out notifications, nor working with the parents and courts to monitor truancy. Last week there was an article about the very poor record keeping around teacher absences. The real sticker on the truancy issue is that there are TWO STAFF PEOPLE assigned to direct this effort and they each make over $100,000 per year. They have staff people below them as well. What are they doing to earn these salaries?

The response from commenters and social media are predictable - anger, amazement at the temerity of the district, questions about the competence of the superintendent, etc. But the money quote from this story is as follows...

At the Nov. 17, 2009, Board of Education work session, Young revealed a bombshell that stunned several board members -- the school district had no truancy statistics, nor any plan to combat the ongoing problem.

Young said the district would be developing a new plan.

"I was surprised that for a year, the board has not been told there was no anti-truancy effort or a proactive effort to address truancy," board member Jose Delgado said he recalled thinking when he heard the news.

The board had not been told??? Seriously???? Why isn't this a regularly reported piece of data to the board? For two years they have not seen any truancy data and the board member response is "the board has not been told" UNACCEPTABLE!

Frankly, I am tired of reading about the poor performance. I don't know the skills or value of the super and I don't care. Mainly because it is quite evident that the board has expected NOTHING. Here is what I am suggesting for the Camden City School District Board and I hope the new mayor of Camden, Dana Redd, is listening.

1. the board must set policy benchmarks for productivity in essential areas. They board must demand that the superintendent share her benchmarks for productivity and results in each of these areas:
  • teacher performance including attendance, evaluation, and progress
  • student performance including truancy, grade level performance, and progress toward graduation
  • security performance and safety in each building
  • availability of textbooks and technology by building and by classroom
  • incidence of suspension and dropout by building and grade
  • nutritional report on cafeteria food actually served by building
2. the board must demand responses from the superintendent on failure to meet benchmarks and hold the super accountable

3. the board must set a fiscal policy on rate of return for dollars spent in the district. Then they must demand that the superintendent justify all expenditures that do not support that policy. This is how inflated salaries and excess staff will be identified and remedied.

The board should not micro-manage the district. The superintendent is well paid to manage the district. The board, however, must set policy and hold the super accountable. The board does not wait to be told. The board sets policy and tells the super to provide information so they can assess the success of that policy.

The school board elections are in April. What is the plan for Camden's election? What and who will be on the ballot if anyone? Who will the mayor appoint and when will she share her vision for school improvement? Residents of Camden deserve and must demand answers to these questions.

1 comment:

Sara said...

I think ALW should be a school board consultant after the April elections. He can just travel around and knock heads together - "Idiot, this is how you run a damned school board." Still don't understand why they didn't revolt and make him president...?