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Monday, February 3, 2014

Concerned About What?

Concerned About? People? or Politics?
by Philip Smith

1) A facebook group identifies itself thusly …
"CCPC [Concerned Citizens For Pickens County] is a multi-partisan group dedicated to equipping families in Pickens County with facts, being a pro-active body in holding any and all public servants accountable."
Whether you are democrat, republican, tea party or anarchist - be VERY wary of any non governmental group that is ambiguous about their politics. There is no such thing as "multi-partisan" … you are either partisan or non partisan (political or apolitical). It doesn't matter where you stand on the matters this group is presenting - just realize - the group is hiding their intentions from the start.

2) I'm finding that MOST of the commenters, likes, and moderators are from Greenville or out of State. BE VERY CAREFUL of outsiders, even with valid points telling you how to think.

Think of it religiously, even as a devout Christian, Buddhism sounds good … a great talker could convert many a weak Christian.

3) I have been to almost every public school board meeting in the past year.  I have spoken at many of them. I have taken careful notes and listened intently. I've read the minutes or summaries of meetings I didn't attend. So, regardless of what ANYONE or ANY GROUP is telling you - the school board IS addressing the accreditation issue.

I do not like the overall tone of the CCPC group - as a threat or scare tactic - citing meaningless headlines about property values plummeting after accreditation was pulled from Clayton County Georgia … well … this accreditation board has only been doing these reviews in this manner for 4 years. Yet the group likes to tell you they've been around since the late 1800's to give them credibility.

When Clayton County Georgia property values plummeted SO DID ALMOST EVERYWHERE ELSE in the country. I can find a headline or news source that will validate any wild point I want to make. There's quite a bit of seemingly valid research that says Ronald Reagan was the anti-christ.

4) The group consistently claims they are not aligned with a particular school board CANDIDATE - but the tactics, friends, specific attacks on a certain current school board member align with one particular candidate. And ask yourself … why wasn't this brought up sooner? Why now, right in the middle of a school board election? I've had a comment that teachers are just finding out … well … These issues have been getting discussed at board meetings I've attended for MONTHS!

5) It's okay to disagree with me on this point … most of you can handle a disagreement well … Back in May of 2013 when the school board rejected building another Easley Middle School and spending an additional $35 million - a group went to our local legislature and tried to get them to add a 7th school board member so they could OUTVOTE the will of the people and subvert the school board vote. AT THE TIME of the vote 3, yes 3 board members actually had Easley addresses. (Shelton, Trotter, Edwards) How is that fair representation to Liberty? Clemson? Central? A selfish group wanted a 4th member on the school board representing Easley. All issues aside, how is that fair to us here in Liberty? 

Well, guess what? Adding a 7th school board member isn't going to happen. First, Pickens Senator Larry Martin has given detailed law stating that At large Seats are not a legal option and unfair to minorities. Second, the Pickens County Election Commission said the addition and costs of redistricting would devastate them - causing havoc with elections all over the county. Third, guess what … it's an election year.

IT SEEMS the ONLY issue the CCPC group is raising is about the sale of the old Gettys Middle School property. Which basically means, it's the same group trying yet again to get another Easley Middle School built. CCPC is the ONLY group saying we have a problem with accreditation concerning the sale and building of a new Easley Middle School.

6) I don't like bully tactics. Forceful politics bothers me. I love debate. I haven't seen ANYONE from this group asking for a debate. People will come and listen! More than 100 showed up at an October 2013 meeting to discuss the 7th school board member. Both sides were heard.

7) My assessment … this post is too long, the summary is too long, things too long to comfortably read are usually ambiguous and misinterpreted - because people don't read them. They just let groups like CCPC TELL THEM what it says.

From The School District Of Pickens County:
The AdvancED External review team has issued its final report, recommending the School District of Pickens County for reaccreditation. Along with recommending the district for reaccreditation, the review expanded on the reasons behind the Required Actions and Powerful Practices identified by the review team at the end of its visit in December.
Accreditation through AdvancED, formerly known as Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, is a vital affirmation of the quality of our schools. For our graduates, it is an important sign to college admissions offices that their high school diploma was the product of a quality program; an AdvancED accredited degree is an expectation, while lack of accreditation is a disadvantage. For property owners, accreditation is an indication of the adequacy of the local school system with considerable influence on home values. 
“I appreciate the thorough review the district received,” said Dr. Kelly Pew, SDPC Superintendent. “By visiting classrooms and talking with stakeholders, the team recognized the high quality of instruction our students receive. They have identified ways in which we can improve analyzing data and providing relevant professional development that will enhance instruction. We have already begun planning the best way to address this area.” 
The review outlines four required actions for the district. The first two required actions, concerning the board of trustees, must be addressed by April 15, when AdvancED will send a representative for a follow- up visit. Failure to address these issues could jeopardize the district’s accreditation status.

In order to maintain accreditation, the AdvancED requires that the board of trustees: 
1. “Ensure that decisions and actions of the governing body are ethical, free of conflict of interest, and in accordance with defined roles and responsibilities.” 
2. “Adhere to appropriate roles and responsibilities for the Board of Trustees, distinguishing between the system administrative roles and the Board of Trustees legislative roles.” 
The final report elaborates on the evidence seen by the external review team that led to these required actions. 
The next two required actions will be reviewed when the AdvancED team returns in five years for the next regularly scheduled reaccreditation visit. All districts receive required actions of this type. 
They are: 
1. “Develop a plan for the evaluation of K-12 curriculum and assessments to promote systematic monitoring and adjustment of processes to ensure data-driven vertical and horizontal alignment with standards, professional practices, and achievement goals are meeting the needs of the district, and 
2. “Analyze the current protocol for allocation of resources for annual operations improvement plans to ensure that funding is adequate and appropriate for each initiative.”
The district administration has already started working toward these goals to ensure that improvement is made over the next five years. 
AdvancED also identified three Powerful Practices in the district. These were areas in which the district received a very high score: 
1. “The administrative leadership effectively communicates the purpose, beliefs, and values through various mediums.”

2. The district provides abundance of services to proactively identify and support at-risk students.

3. “Communication is a strength in the district with stakeholders reporting they feel well informed about student status and school events.”
In the conclusion of its report, AdvancED contrasted the strengths and weaknesses of the district.

The external review team wrote: 
“The team found strong practices in the academic indicators of AdvancED standards. Promising practices were selected for the district as a result of reviewing all the evidence made available to the team as follows: the administrative leadership effectively communicates the purpose, beliefs, and values through various mediums. The district provides abundance of services to proactively identify and support at-risk students, and communication is a strength in the district with stakeholders reporting they feel well informed about their student status and school events. 
“A strong contrast was observed during interviews, observations, and evidence offered the team for Standard 2, specifically regarding the actions and decisions of the Board of Trustees. The required actions should guide next steps in systematic work. Two ratings in this standard resulted in required actions with conditions that they be addressed by spring so that the district can move forward with the second set of required actions. The second set of required actions should guide next steps in systematic work. The district is required to develop a data-informed plan for evaluation of 4K-12 curriculum and assessments so that the system may strategically monitor and adjust processes to ensure data-driven vertical and horizontal alignment with standards, professional practices and achievement goals.” 
"AdvancED has made a distinction between the first two required actions directed toward the board, which are expected to be addressed this spring, and the other two required actions, which AdvancED will check our progress on when they return in about 5 years at their next regularly scheduled visit. All districts receive required actions of the second type, because part of the purpose of AdvancED accreditation is continuous improvement."

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