equalizer

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  1. equalizer added a topic in Winton Woods School Talk   

    Equalizer's Retirement
     
    On July 6, 2005, I returned a call from Mrs. Anita J. Williams asking me if I wanted to work at Winton Woods High School.  I spent the previous year working at a school in Butler County and jumped at the chance to work at WW.   As I got more comfortable working, I found junedale.  I created an account based on reports surrounding Homecoming Policies.  I joined on September 23, 2007.
    Since that time, I wanted to be an active advocate for WWHS.  You have read my reams of long winded responses.  Over the years, the discussions went on to a wide variety of topics.. including the 2008-2009 levy campaign and the 2014-2015 bond issue campaigns. I have weighed in on a number of topics and have often clashed with some of junedale's best.  Although the discussion also got sort of heated on here.. I always realized that the people making the arguments were honorable people.  Even when I clashed with Cicero.. I knew who he was and what he did.  In fact, among the teachers, Cicero had our begrudging respect.  Bond issue aside, he was pointing out a lot of the problems that we wished more parents would speak loudly about.
    As a teacher, I believe that it is important to advocate for the profession.  If won't stand up for what I do, how can I possible (with credibility) say that I am out there fighting for kids?  It doesn't work. 

    I resigned from the district on July 6, 2015 (exactly 10 years later) to accept a teaching position at another major HS in Butler County.   Officially, I had "no reason" other than I wanted to leave. I had no axes to grind.  Leaving a job is very stressful and I spent months considering it.
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    Since my resignation, I debated whether or not to stay on junedale.  Obviously, I didn't have a dog in the fights.. but I also know that no other teacher was rising to the challenge of addressing and "equalizing" some of what is going on.  I will be surprised if any other teacher ever weighs in.  I knew (obviously) that the dynamic had change in that I no longer had the obligation to consider my employer's interests before posting.  I don't need a homily on the evils of accountability on social media.  What you say can and does have consequences (look at Trump and Clinton).. but we don't live in North Korea either.  There should be respect for give and take.
    Like it or not, I know more of what is going on inside the walls of WW than anybody else over the last 10 years... including WWW or Paula.  While I was in the trench.. they are/were writing the checks to the ditch digger.  As my time in WW becomes more faint in the rear view mirror, I am less and less the expert about what goes on there.  Still, a number of community members appreciate what I have been saying about education in general (and WW in particular).. so I stuck around.  I never intended to be malicious even as I realized that I was under to obligation to be "loyal" to the brass at WW.
    While it is basic common sense that you never trash your employer (or even your former ones), just relying on the administration to inform the community about what the challenges are in schools is not best practice either.   It really does take a team approach.. and is something that I am promoting at my current school in my role. 

    After working somewhere else, I gained a lot of perspective on the mission and what I saw as the problems at WW. I didn't post to "get even' with anybody or to "sabotage the bond issue".   I never called for anybody's head on a platter.. but I did suggest that some structural changes might work.   Folks know full well on how much work I did on the bond  issue.. whom better than I to suggest what the problems were in getting them passed.. even as we reach out to the critics.
    Now, apparently, my comments here (and on facebook) are upsetting certain administrators and at least one "positive" school board member.  In one comment (probably the most controversial) I defend the comments of a recent alumnus who called for the firing of an administrator over the whole Felipe fiasco.   What was really ironic about all of this is that.. on junedale.. I called Felipe's "resignation" unprofessional as it came in the middle of a school year and that he trashed his employer so publicly.  What I "liked" was that a former student was taking a bold stand.. the way we encouraged our students to do when they were in AGS.  I guess I should have been more specific about who you were allowed to challenge .  WW is out of bounds.  Gosh I know that now LOL.
    This administrator  contacted MY BOSS about my comments on social media and that I may be violating the Ohio Code of Professional Conduct for Educators.   Why would someone call MY BOSS?   Does this make sense?   Do we call Christine's boss?   Do we seek out the Mad B's boss?

    This person didn't contact me personally.  This person CALLED MY BOSS.  Let that one sink in for a minute.
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    I wrote a letter on September 26 to EACH INDIVIDUAL BOARD MEMBER to address this situation (Five emails) with a few requests.  To contact one's employer directly is.. at a minimum, very unusual for a school district to do... unless the former employee is spreading lies or untruths or slander.  Even then, I don't know that this is standard practice... even for those of us in a licenced occupation like Teachers.  Spare me the talk about ethics. I know the code.  This was about intimidating me to shut my mouth.  I guess you could say it worked.

    I heard nothing back from the board.  Fair enough.   One of the board members is on this board everyday complaining that people are being nasty and divisive and yet.. appears to turn a blind eye when her employees engage in similar tactics.  If there are "two sides of the story".. what is the other side?  Sigh.   I don't even care anymore.  I'm so done.  If this behavior continues, I will deal with it.  
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    I want to say a few things for the record to make them clear.
    1) I loved my 10 years at Winton Woods.  I made a lot of friends there.  I have been to weddings, funerals, graduations, you name it.  I think that WW has a lot of good and honorable people that really do deserve a lot more.  
    2)  I honestly could care less about the bond issue.  I don't make money if the bond issue fails nor do I get any sense of satisfaction that some kind of "message was sent". 
    3)  There are no former teachers regretting leaving WW.  None.  In fact, we credit WW for making us the great professionals that we are in our new districts.  I will always consider myself a Warrior and was proud of the work that I did.. and the graduates that we helped to mold.   We learned in the "harshest of weight rooms".  We were tested by fire.  I also know that certain administrators now refer to as "dead weight" and "oh wow.. we are glad we cleaned house".. but in reality.. that's all they can say.  They didn't say that about us in 2011 and 2012 and 2013.
    4)  There are a LOT of people in WW that want to make the place better.  Many of the critics on here are actually some of the people that are part of the solution.  However, they (as they have reported) have been shoved aside because they didn't march lockstep behind the "management team".  Okay, how is that working out for you?  Instead of building partnerships, you have one of your administrators whining about former employees to their current bosses.

    5)   I don't win if someone else loses.   I have obviously moved on and am very happy.
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    As I said, as I get further removed from the place.. the harder it is (or will be) for me to really inform anybody about what is going on.  I could (at this point) only tell you what OTHER places are doing and how parents and taxpayers can advocate.  I realize that NO school can operate on the "committee of 30,000" plan.. the bosses ultimately have to make the decisions... but I also know that there are so many things going on in education.. that we really do need to look at all of options, we have to seek out different viewpoints, we have to ask others for help, we have to spend less time pointing fingers and more time holding hands (metaphorically of course .   I love PBL.. but respect the views of others.   In fact, one of the major tenants of PBL is to respect alternative viewpoints.
    We also need to look at tearing down walls and building bridges.  What bridges are built when people are told to stifle, and bosses are called.. even if they feel threatened?  Perhaps the board will figure out an answer to that one.  Maybe when the new buildings are built, the construction crew will hang around to reach out and build bridges to the many people that feel shut out of WW.  If they don't, they will never get better.  Never.  It is a truth that is fairly universal in any school district in the world.  
    The truth is, I am actually a pretty busy Equalizer.  I have four kids. I am a full time teacher.  I am a business owner.  I even have a cool side job.  While I have always enjoyed filling people in on how I saw things (as a teacher who loves their craft), I am not interested in causing problems for my new bosses who are simply amazing. I am not interested in getting into debates and battles with people that I don't even work for.  I love working for my current bosses  .. much as I loved working for Anita J all those years ago. We are building something very special at my new HS, that I really want to focus on that.  I love what I do and where our programs are headed.. no need to post things that can help others  if it is going to cause me personal pain.  

    I wlll always be grateful for the 10 years I spent there, but the time has come for me to bring to a close my contributions on this board.
    I wish all of you the very best as you sort out what is best for the children of Greenhills, Forest Park, and Springfield Township going forward.  The people of WW will always have a soft spot with me.  I hope that.. down the road.. you get the educational system that you all deserve. 

     
    • 47 replies
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  2. equalizer added a post in a topic Report Card Comparison 2016   

    I think the whole goal of the state report card is just to slap F grades on every  public school to make the case for more money for charter schools and it is disgusting.   What is even more hilarious is that the state superintendent is out there saying oh don't pay attention to these grades they don't mean much
    ..if they don't mean much why are we releasing them in the first place?
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  3. equalizer added a post in a topic Report Card Comparison 2016   

    MB... sigh... how dare you question your betters!  
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  4. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    You may want to reconsider that comment Paula.  Nobody... aside from Brad Lanier... has been an advocate for Winton Woods levy and bond issues quite the way I have been over 10 years..... but even I am viewed as some kind of enemy because I agreed with the statement that a recent alumnus made during the Felipe fiasco.  I really wish you would be a little bit more objective.  In fact the comments I made on here were in the hopes that somebody would read it and pay attention to what needed to be done to get these buildings built.  
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  5. equalizer added a post in a topic Bond Issue - A Better Deal?   

    I sent you a PM MB.
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  6. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    I sent you a p.m. mad botanist
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  7. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    If you look at the presentations (and this goes back years), most of the support for bond issues and levy requests comes from "district insiders" and those connected to the school fairly directly.  Normally, these campaigns are led by community members.   The late Joe Nuxhall always was the "honorary chairman" every time Fairfield wanted to pass a levy or whatever.  WW doesn't have their Joe Nuxhall. I think this is fairly problematic and I thought it was problematic when I was holding the signs at Winton/Kemper.
    While it is true that voter turnout in a presidential election will bring out a lot of voters that probably don't pay property taxes (college students, for example).. it is difficult to see a long term trend of homeowners willing to pay ever higher taxes for much of anything.   At some point, Forest Park will have to raise taxes since the commercial tax base can't continue to support the level of services required.  This is a result of what we were told 10 years ago by Dr. Ray Terrell (Former mayor of Woodlawn).  Poverty is moving out from the City of Cincinnati into the outer ring suburbs.

    Mt. Healthy is at 2.00% as is Reading and Woodlawn.  It is naive to think that FP won't soon follow suit.. as well as requiring its residents to pay taxes to the town where they work (another 1.5% if you work in Springdale).  FP is a fine town.. but is it a cost-effective place to live?

    Again, West Chester, Milford, and even the far west side suburbs are growing.. in part.. because of a commercial tax base that can sustain things like new schools.  FP doesn't have the market cornered on diversity as Fairfield and even West Chester have significant minority populations. (In WC, there is a significant Indian and Asian population that reflects the many professional businesses out there (P and G, etc.)).  I hate to be disrespectful, but what exactly does FP and GH have to offer that other lower cost places do not?   Even if you think GH is kick *** awesome, is that the long term thinking?   Is that what the business community is telling you?

    Places like Hamilton are actually investing a lot of money in turning their business districts into art communities.  
    Everyone wants to be "FOR" something... but being "FOR" something and agreeing to pay for it for 37 years requires a level of faith and confidence in both the community (is this place on an upward trajectory?) and the people in charge of the governmental entity making the request.  Some people in the district clearly are in a better position to shoulder such burdens.  I can tell you, in my canvassing, that a lot of families clearly are hurting and are looking to fix their broken screen door before they provide WW with a bunch of new doors.   Even people that are pretty happy with WW are not happy with the concept of parting with another $20-$30 a month.  If options such as "open enrollment" were explored, would that change the stance that building a new school is the only option?
    What might that look like?  Let's take the HS (1100 students).  Could those students be divided between Fairfield, Northwest, Finneytown, Colerain, Mt. Healthy?  I don't know.  I think it would be a pretty interesting experiment to say the least. 
    I think that, in 2016, that the idea that you must attend and support schools that are in geographic proximity to you are not necessarily over, but the concept really can be challenged in a day and age when there are many ways to attain the same goal... IF the community thinks that it is the best option.
    For some people, this vote is sentimental.  You graduated from GH or FP or WW and you want to see that school be there until you die.  You want to be able to see your children and grandchildren graduate from there.  That's not an entirely terrible premise.  You feel that you have an obligation to "pay it forward".   In some cases, the community demands and expects that a school serve the people of that community.   Yes, virtually every other community around WW approved new school construction.. but what are those bonds like between the people and their schools?  Even when I worked there, I lamented the fact that support for anything a WW was event specific.  Very few people "bleed blue and green".  Contrast that to your typical Colerain or Princeton fan.  Am I wrong on that?

    But, and this is key, can you sustain that desire?  It's easy for a college student to say "Yeah.. I'll vote for that"... but they won't be around to foot the bill.   It is my understanding that apartment managers / leasing companies aren't going to eat any increased property taxes... regardless of source.  They will pass along the property tax increase in the form of higher rent or reduced amenities.  This is a bad thing... but they have to make money too.   I don't think that any of Bass Pro is in the WW district, but a portion of it is in Forest Park.  When it moves out, the taxes go away and those burdens will now be shouldered by the homeowner as well. 

    Katrina Rugless hit the nail on the head.  There really needed to be a community discussion after the last defeat showed only 29% approval.   Believe me, we worked hard to even get that number.  Now, the request has been trimmed by about 20% due to an increased state funding.  Okay, but the fundamental request is still the same.  I wonder how they will cross the finish line since you have a big NO wall in SFT.  They may only have 15% of the students in the district, but they have probably 33% of the vote.  Let's say GH is a wash.  I wonder how they believe that they will get 2/3 of the vote in FP.  Maybe they will, but would anybody lay money on it. 
    In the repair/replace/new scenario, "NEW" clearly wins.. but that is based on the premise that no other options are available.  That, to me, appears to be huge.
    Perhaps the lack of attendance at these conversations suggests that most people have their minds made up.
    I am not saying anything to disparage the wonderful and awesome administration of the Winton Woods school system.....but I am presenting the "bear" case for all of this from those that I am speaking with.
     
     
     
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  8. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    Christine or Mirth or GG.. do you see real desire to disband the school district?  If it were put to a vote, what kind of percentage do you think it would be in GH and SOTL?
    Has this alternative been marketed to the voter by any group or groups?
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  9. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    Irrespective of the arguments about "doing it for the kids", etc.   The demographic of the "I 275 loop" west of I-75 is becoming decidedly poorer as wealth continues to flee to Butler and Warren Counties.  Gentrification efforts within the City of Cincinnati (The Banks, etc.) are also attracting people there.  In places like Princeton, you have a huge commercial tax base that can shoulder the burden.   GH and FP are already two of the highest taxes places in SW Ohio (as judged by property+income tax rates).  Even factoring in the benefits of new construction, do they think people will pay a huge premium (considering there is no tax base) to support such a plan?
    Just a fair question that people are asking and probably the biggest hurdle to a 37 year commitment.
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  10. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    She owns more than one property Christine.
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  11. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    Amen GG.... As you can see... most of their staff gave up years of service and experience because they were tired of it too....its probably why they have such a small base of support...despite the real need for upgrades.  
    One funny story to add to that in a meeting last year the former wwta president challenged all of the Administration to donate $500 to the bond issue campaign... as he pledged to do right there and then.   You could have heard a pin drop.   One administrator did match him right there and then ...but I know one assistant principal at the high school was like... no no I'm not doing that! Hilarious!
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  12. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    I keep coming back to the thought that this is an administration driven campaign (with a stable of about 25 (mostly white) people from the community).. and always sort of has been.  I was probably being generous MB.  
    Even though I have advocated for the new construction .... I keep coming back to a couple of hurdles that WW keeps stumbling on.
    The same ham-handed approach that the WW "team" has taken with the staff  (We don't need you..everyone can be replaced) appears to be the same strategy that they take with the community as well.   I don't say that with any sort of glee.  I can clearly see that the administration believes that if they "guilt' enough people into voting YES, they believe it will pass.   One recent alumni is, like I posted earlier, taking a loud stance on all of this.. as are some of his classmates.   I have not called for anybody's firing.. but he did.   Guilt trips aren't going to work... even and especially in Forest Park, where you are going to need about a 65% YES vote to get this through.   I can tell you that there are many loud opponents to this in that community that will be a lot more effective than anybody working for WW. 
    A number of people take their cue from people like Katrina Rugless (who lives SOTL).  She is clearly NOT on board with it. 

    Not to play the "race card".. but you have to do that in a place like WW.  What respected African-American leaders in the community are making this a priority?  Where is the mayor of Forest Park?  Where are the church leaders like Bishop Bobby?  K. Rugless is opposed and you don't really hear too much from Dr. Viola Johnson.   I'm sorry.   It can't always be the same group of  (mainly white) people to make the case to a place that is only about 48% white (and largely opposed to the bond issue).   Even in the pictures of the volunteers on the warrior bond issue fbook page, again.. about 2/3 white.  I noticed that when I was canvassing.  Where the hell is the community?  It bothered me to no end.
    I don't think that your typical African-American voter in FP is going to be wowed by Mr. Smith.  They base their judgement on the education that their child is receiving and what their teachers are telling them about the place.   Sure, you have a few "dynamic" teachers right now in WW, but they wonder what happened to the "dynamic" teachers they had there 3 years ago.   If the district is as advertised, why does F M-T want out?  They aren't buying the spin because F M-T actually developed a bond with those people.
    The framework of this "community conversation" (and its hour duration) suggests to me that they merely want to bring out their "base" to make the case that THEY are doing a good job... spread the word, etc.  Sure, they may highlight a few teachers that will use the forum as an opportunity for PR (I doubt F M-T will be there this go around), but a successful campaign can't always be about the vision of people like Mr. Smith.   You really do have to get down to hard numbers and the tradeoffs.    You should want to stay as long as anybody wants to stay.  
    WW is reluctant to listen to what other districts are doing to solve their problems.. but a page from Princeton's notebook might be helpful.  How did THEY get their bond issue passed?

    If it is just an opportunity to get people in to hear the WW gospel... I fear it will be a waste of everybody's time.  People have heard too much already.  Folks get it.  NTN, Rowing team, fine arts.. yadda yadda.
    If you want to have a "Community Driven Conversation".. I'd tell people like the district's lawyer to STAY HOME.   Steve Denny should absolutely be there.. but not the whole band or the PR spin machine.  Don't flood the place with staff.  No more than 2 admins and 2 teachers.   Keep your comments brief and let the people speak their piece.  Let the COMMUNITY speak to the COMMUNITY.   People like John Pennycuff and his associates should be speaking at the meetings while.. well.. anybody on Junedale can speak about property values and trust in the leadership.   This is a huge issue.  You can't just assume that the people of FP are going to vote for it out of some sense of duty to Mr. Smith. People are being asked to give up $20 a month for 37 years.  Not a small request.
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  13. equalizer added a post in a topic School Facilities Conversation 9/27   

    Yep.  GG is correct.  It is a "community conversation" not a push for the bond issue.. of course.. we all know that it is a push for the bond issue.

    My question is.. why is it only one hour?
    One of the recent graduates (WWHS C/O 2015) recently called out on facebook for Mr. Martin to be fired.  A number of people in his class (apparently) are disgusted with WW's leadership and the constant turnover of staff.   He has been invited to have his own personal conversation with the high command next week.  I believe others were called out there as well and will probably be told to "fall in line" and not be "tools" for people that have axes to grind.. that sort of thing.  
    There is a difference between a "community conversation" and a "community presentation".  If this one hour time frame is basically a presentation where Mr. Smith gets up there and rambles on about AGS, the band (probably won't talk about Orchestra), or whatever... leaving 9 minutes for questions... then it's not much of a conversation.   Having been to a number of them, I am willing to bet it is 70% staff and 30% community there anyway.  They probably have a "swat team" to deal with certain people that are branded troublemakers.  I have no doubt.
    A few years ago, I facilitated one of these conversations.  One gentleman (who has a relative that works for the district) absolutely tore the place up and said many of the things that are said on junedale.  He didn't live in GH. I doubt he belongs to the Tea Party.  Since then, I can tell you, his relative has seen (their) support erode from the high command. 
     
    Outside of the usual Greenhills crowd, I don't see any real support for the new construction from the community.  Katrina Rugless is a "NO" and.. like it or not.. she has a lot of influence.  Most of the money and manpower will be from out of the district by people that have connections to the district.  This.. again.. is nothing new.   Your Chinese students and your "open enrolled" students can't vote on it either.
    I hope they hang around for a little longer than an hour to re-enforce the troops that are needed to get this done.  They need everybody that they can get. 
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  14. equalizer added a post in a topic Bond Issue - A Better Deal?   

    They have very little margin for error with the parents.   I think they are so used to taking a hard-line stance with their staff they but they do not know how to switch that off when dealing with the community.  
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  15. equalizer added a post in a topic Bond Issue - A Better Deal?   

    To be fair I think that WIP was speaking to the mold issues in the school as well as the other environmental hazards that are causing people to get sick.  The district's needs are well beyond a Habitat for Humanity type project.  
    That being said... the administration seems to believe that guilt tripping the community is going to be the strategy....as opposed to getting down off the high horse when someone questions them. Last time around they really guilt trip this staff into working on the campaign... one administrator was very vocal and I think it had an opposite effect.  People dont like to br voluntold. 
    There really is a need for big fixes and new construction may be the most cost effective way to do that... but it may never get done if they keep going back to the iron fisted approach they have used...too often...with the staff.  
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