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The Broad-way: Fleecing America's Schools

Ohanian Comment: For those who subscribe to this site, this information about Robert Bobb's work as an Emergency Financial Manager of the Detroit Public Schools comes as absolutely no surprise. I have offered considerable detail on Robert Bobb. Just put his name into 'search' on the home page of this site. You'll get 52 hits.

For starters, take a look at this one.

For a switch on data mining of student test scores, we get this data: In some cases, the pay to individual consultants was twice as much as the salary earned by the employee who was replaced, according to district data.

And to put the Robert Bobb story into a national curriculum--and public school survival--context, consider Barbara Byrd-Bennett's connections--to Robert Bobb, to Detroit, to Harcourt, to the Common Core Standards, to the Democratic Party. . . And so on. And so on.

Byrd-Bennett is the Detroit Public Schools turnaround team as chief academic and accountability officer. Here are a few other notable signposts in her career:

  • April 2009. Byrd-Bennett is a trustee of the Gates-funded Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project.

  • November 1998 -- February 2006: As Cleveland Schools CEO, Byrd-Bennett defends the use of Compass Learning and other "drill and kill" programs, telling a Baltimore Sun reporter, "I would argue that there is very little intervention [for struggling students] that isn't rote. For some things, you just have to learn facts to build to higher-order skills."

  • Barbara Byrd-Bennett Paid for by Corporate Club

  • from August 1996 -- November 1998: Supervising Superintendent of the Chancellor's District in New York City [from her resume: The Chancellor’s District serves as a national model for turnaround school efforts]

  • November 2003 Secretary of Education Rod Paige announces Byrd-Bennett's appointment to NAEP governing board.

  • Albert Shanker Institute Board of Directors

  • from February 2006 to March 2009: Superintendent-in-Residency for Harcourt School Publishers, Chicago, Illinois.

  • from March 2006: Superintendent Executive Coach for the Broad Superintendent Academy

  • from October 2006: Executive Officer New Leaders for New Schools in Washington DC

  • Executive–in-Residence for Cleveland State University

  • 2008: Speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Denver [though not listed in Google search]. Obama officially received the nomination for President on August 27

  • NOTE: Lynne Munson, the president of
    the Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project was a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute 1993-2001.

    Included her long list of affiliations, Barbara Byrd-Bennett is a trustee at the Gates-funded Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project.

    Unless we do something to stop it, the oxymoron Curriculum Mapping will be the education mandate of the next decade. We used to call them scripts. "Maps" somehow sounds more friendly to the Standardistos with power.

    Another trustee of this Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project, Juan Rangel, wrote this on Huffington Post, 1/21/10:

    "President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan's Race to the Top grant program is the most promising education initiative in decades, giving the nation an opportunity to take a hard look at raising standards and closing achievement gaps in public education."

    Rangel is CEO of United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) in Chicago, which received $98 million in stimulus funds for his charter operation.

    Jim Vail introduced an expose of Juan Rangel at Substance in Dec. 2010. It's a scorcher, and is another reason why you should be subscribing to Substance.

    Bill Gates thinks this is the team, featured by opportunism and teacher bashing, is fit to deliver a national curriculum. And what is critical for teachers and parents to see is that this is connected to the destruction of the Detroit Public Schools. . . and the upcoming destruction--across the country--of teaching as a profession. Some bleed earlier than others. The plan is for all of us to bleed out.

    Footnote: Since the iTeachQ blog is all about finances, take a look at this teacher blog on Barbara Byrd-Bennett's extraordinary expenses when she headed the Cleveland schools:

    Byrd-Bennett is the CEO of the Cleveland Public School district. That school district is responsible for educating 70,000 students, and is currently running a reported 68 million dollar deficit this year. Let's look at some of Barbara Byrd-Bennett's expenses that have run her school into the red:

    First of all, Byrd-Bennett's yearly salary is over $250,000. With that in mind, ask yourself why she needs the school systems and private donations to fund the rest of this stuff.

    May, 2002 - Byrd-Bennett went on a trip to England and stayed at Herrod's. I didn't know what Herrod's was, so I checked it out. Herrod's website claims that it "promises one of the most extravagant and luxurious shopping experiences in the world." Oh. Okay. Glad that money was spent wisely. Keep in mind that many toilets don't work at East Tech. [There's a bit of confusion here: Harrod's is a high-end department store.]

    July, 2002 - Byrd-Bennett takes a trip to Maui and stays at the Kapula Ritz Carlton. Average room at the Kapula Ritz Carlton? $495 per night. During those five days, she spent $1,082.18 on meals. That's $216 spent on food each day. Or over 70 bucks per meal.

    Later that year, Byrd-Bennett buys a business class ticket from Cleveland to Washington D.C. for $1,300. When asked why she had to get such expensive seats, Byrd-Bennett explained that she had a medical condition that made it necessary for her to fly first-class and showed a doctor's note to prove it. When she was asked what a normal person with the same condition should do if they couldn't afford the first class tickets, she replied "I don't know, I guess I don't think I'm your normal person."

    Later, she went to dinner in Cleveland Heights. She ate steaks, lobster and beer, and only spent $428.38 on dinner. There is no documentation of the attendants of this dinner, but we were assured that this was a business meeting. I wish they served beer at my meetings.

    $256,000 is held in the annual budget for the "Support and Development Fund" which is at the exclusive disposal of Byrd-Bennett.

    How about this from the Chess for Success Organization? "The Cleveland schools have supported us financially by providing the chess sets and paying for the expenses involved in our year-end Chess Challenge, a tournament and exhibition at the downtown public library. These expenses include transportation, lunches, table rental, trophies and medals for every student involved in our program." Sounds nice, but why didn't we use that money to buy text books? Did someone forget that students have to share text books?

    Byrd-Bennett called the District auditor's office to complain about her property taxes, demanding that they be cut. She spoke with a woman named Kathy Guy. After the phone calls, her property taxes were cut, and the estimated value of her parcel of land fell more than $15,000 overnight. Today, her property taxes are $200 a month cheaper than her next door neighbor who has a smaller parcel of land. When reporters asked Byrd-Bennett about the issue, she replied, "I have never talked to anyone at the county auditor's office. I have never challenged the assessments or taxes." Kathy Guy's response to this was: "I'm hoping she just forgot. I don't want to say she's a liar, but you know, I spoke to her. I swear I spoke to her."

    Oh, did I mention that Byrd-Bennett gets a company car and two escorts to drive her wherever she goes, and the top brass at the school board get up to $500 a month toward car payments? Meanwhile, the Cleveland public school system has been forced to cut back on bussing students because it's too expensive.

    Gerry Stueber is a teacher at East Tech. What did he say about conditions in the Cleveland Public School? "We have big fights, lots of fights in the school, and end up with kids macing each other and getting mace on staff members.” Where is the money going that could staff more security?

    Recently the ACLU began an investigation into Barbara Byrd-Bennett's method of forming "work groups" through which the School's budget is developed. The ACLU says, "“It appears that the purpose of these so-called ‘work groups’ is to circumvent Ohio’s Sunshine Laws & secretly conduct official business away from public view. The district is engaged in an open meetings ‘shell game’ purposely designed to minimize public input."

    So, that's the way Cleveland tax dollars are being raised and spent. I'm not saying that running an inner-city school district is an easy job. I am saying that a school running at a 28 million dollar deficit should cut company cars, and expensive Maui vacations before they start cutting busing and teachers.

    In 2003, Barbara Byrd Bennett fired 52 assistant principals and 172 school teachers because of the budget crises. Only days later she was given a $54,000 bonus for her work. The average teacher's salary in the Cleveland Public School system is less than $30,000/year. Something has to change.

    Hundreds of teachers were cut from the payroll last year because the Cleveland public school system could not afford them. This school year, books are being used for the twelfth consecutive year. Two schools have been shut down for over five days this year because they can't keep the heat on. Paint crumbles off the walls in the hallways, locker doors have been ripped off in some schools, toilets are broken, and in many schools, the janitorial staff is too small to clean the entire school every night. . . .

    For the amount of money she spent to go to Maui, the School District could have purchased 115 new $35 text books.

    It looks like these school chiefs call themselves CEOs so they can keep up the lifestyles of CEOs.

    by iTeachQ

    How did former Emergency Financial Manager and Broad Academy Graduate Robert Bobb fleece the Detroit Public Schools?

    Yesterday, Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Lori Higgins in the Detroit Free Press reported: DPS spent $1.6M on travel, gave raises to consultants. Dawsey expanded their front page investigative article with: Under Bobb, consultants got raises, perks.

    I invite you to take a look at their investigative report.

    In their budget investigation they found that:

    The Detroit Public Schools spent more than $1.6 million on travel last year and paid out hefty raises to consultants at a time when the district was cutting wages and borrowing to meet its obligations, according to records the Free Press reviewed.

    It appears that Robert Bobb, who expanded the debt of the Detroit Public Schools from $219 million in 2009 to $327 million in 2011. Bobb, who has been the model for the new EFM law in Michigan promised to have a $17 million surplus on hand at the end of 2010.

    Detroit Public Schools increased spending on travel and consultants over the last year, during a period when the district's deficit climbed, one in five schools closed and more than 2,000 positions were cut, a Free Press analysis of public expenditure reports shows.

    In some cases, the pay to individual consultants was twice as much as the salary earned by the employee who was replaced, according to district data. DPS also spent more than $1.6 million on American Express travel-related purchase expenses from March 3, 2010, to March 3, 2011.

    The travel costs exceed the $1.5 million DPS spent on a combination of travel, hotels, conferences and catering in 2007, the most recent year for which information is available.

    This is supposed to be the way forward for Michigan? Bring in a financial manager, privatize everything and then hire your friends as consultants?

    It has been well documented that the Broads are going to expand their influence in schools across this country. Noted historian Diane Ravitch explained Broad's philosophy of education management in The Billionaire Boys' Club (a chapter from her acclaimed book).

    This is nothing new. What is new is that the sunlight is finally shining financial transparency on what these foundations have in store for America's schools.

    Robert Bobb, a former real estate consultant and president of the D.C. school board had been one of the most celebrated celebrities to graduate from the Broad Academy.

    The Academy identifies and prepares prominent leaders—executives who have experience successfully leading large organizations and a passion for public service--then places them in urban school districts to dramatically improve the quality of education for America's students.

    The Academy is run like an executive training program. Participants attend extended weekend sessions over the course of 10 months, while continuing to work in their current jobs.

    Apparently, what they teach in their "executive training program" is to do the following:

    *Spend $1.6 million in travel.
    *Spend $54 million to companies contracted to privatize operations and fill administrative roles.
    *Hire consultants and pay them twice what the prior administrator who held the position was paid.
    *Give pay increases to consultants, while employee groups took concessions.

    The Michigan Messenger shows that Bobb hired heavily from firms he'd worked with on previous jobs as a former city manager in Washington D.C., president of the DC school board and as a real estate consultant.

    Would it be safe to say that even under the previously fiscally irresponsible school administration, DPS would have fared better?

    Mark O'Keefe, executive vice president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, called the spending an affront to employees.

    "It's inconsistent to the message they're giving to teachers: That they don't have money."

    No kidding.

    The Detroit Public Schools have long suffered through mismanagement, corruption, and graft. Former Governor John Engler eliminated the board and ran the district, which resulted in mismanagement, corruption, and graft. Former Governor Jennifer Granholm restored local control which resulted in mismanagement, corruption, and graft. Granholm then appointed a Broad man, who was specifically trained to run the district like a business; this resulted in (you guessed it) mismanagement, corruption, and greed. Anyone else see a pattern here?

    Former GM executive Roy Roberts has been at the helm for at least a month, and he has done more "Broad" based reforms.

    On Monday, DPS with Roberts and current Governor Snyder announced a deal that would expand the role of Broad in Detroit.

    The Education Achievement System (EAS) plan is a new statewide school system that will operate the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in Michigan not achieving satisfactory results on a redesign plan or that are under an emergency manager. It is designed to provide a new, stable, financially responsible set of public schools that create the conditions, supports, tools and resources under which teachers can help students make significant academic gains. It will first apply to underperforming schools in Detroit in the 2012-2013 school year and then be expanded to cover the entire state.

    "The new Education Achievement System will drive dramatically more resources into school classrooms, offer schools greater autonomy to use best practices and ensure significant and sustainable student achievement increases."

    What it really means is that we'll see more Broad involvement in Michigan schools, the privatization of public schools, the expansion of charter schools, and the consolidation of districts.

    I for one am not too impressed with what Broad has brought to Michigan.

    Chris White, a co-chair of the Coalition to Restore Hope to DPS, accused Bobb in a lawsuit this year of failing to report financial information as required by law. He said the expenditure reports posted online were incomplete.

    "The money being spent on consultants and excessive traveling, that's money that's not reaching the classroom," he said. "It appears ... more waste is happening under state control and state intervention."

    It appears...more waste will continue to occur under the Roberts/Snyder administration. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Public schools destroyed under the pressures from billionaires.

    — iTeachQ
    Daily Kos





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