Wednesday, October 9, 2013


An interesting post card arrived at our house.  It wasn't the usual Lebanon School District's propaganda card.  This card was sent by a group that is worrying about America's future. The large headline on the card says, "OUR COMMUNITIES ARE IN CRISIS."  Quotes on the card were from several newspapers in Ohio.  



                                                      CUT SERVICES."


The card asks for the unions to restore fairness, to respect the taxpayers and require accountability.   That's not asking a lot, but it would make a big difference to our communities and for taxpayers.

Our school district, and all school districts,  return to the taxpayers over and over again asking for higher and higher tax rates.   Many districts push for levies to support the construction of newer schools.  The building sprees often seem to be to unnecessary and only a means to  feather the nests of the superintendents.   It really looks good on their resumes to say they led construction projects. 

Some districts build schools that would compete with Versailles.   In Los Angeles the district spent $578 million on the Robert F. Kennedy School Complex.   The complex will serve only 3,700 students.   It is the most expensive school ever built in U. S. history.   Will this construction improve the intellectual ability of the students served?   It is doubtful.  Other districts have spent similar money and test scores actually went down.

There is plenty of  empirical evidence that proves that fancy buildings and escalating dollars spent do not relate to the quality of education received by the students.  The United States spends more money on education than any other nation in the world.   Yet, our students are not competitive with the students in the rest of the world.   The students in the U.S. placed 32nd among the 65 nations that participated in the latest international tests.  We placed between Portugal and Italy and far behind South Korea, Finland, Canada, and the Netherlands.  We were far behind Shanghai, with its 75 percent proficiency rate.

The percentage proficient in the state of New York (30 percent) is equivalent to that achieved by students in debt-ridden Spain and Portugal.  California, with Silicon Valley, has a math proficiency rate of 24 percent.  This rate is the same as bankrupt Greece.  New Mexico and Mississippi scores compare with Bulgaria and Serbia.  If money would solve the problem we would have the most highly educated population in the world.

A Buckeye Institute report states that approximately 80% of school expenditures are concentrated in teacher salaries.  The salary is determined in large part by seniority.  The seniority policies tend to allow teachers to choose their assignment.  Seniority-based assignment policies allow higher-paid veteran teacher to serve fewer problem and low achieving students.  The Lakota contract guarantees the teachers 78% of the budget.

The teacher's unions do control every facet of the educational process.   Their contract determines the school day, the early dismissal day for union activities (which cheats the student out of a half day of education), who can bid on supplemental positions, and 161 pages of rules regulating the school district.   Of course the guidance for the local district originates at the national level.  Education will never improve until the control by the union is removed and that all students can choose the school that they attend.   Competition will be the best medicine to cure the education problems in this country.

It is almost impossible to fire a teacher so the districts pass the really horrible specimens on to other districts.   This is true for administrators too.   It is called "the waltz of the lemons." New York City has an entire building for teachers that are too unfit to even pass on.  One Ohio district had a cross dresser that stirred problems and that guy was traded for a problem teacher in a suburban district.    As soon as the gossip starts, the person is quietly moved to some other district.

The Lebanon City School District does not have a good record of properly spending our tax dollars.   They do not have a good record of communicating honestly with the citizens of the district.   People who ask questions are not welcome.   They are called out at board meetings with vengeance and vindictiveness.   The police do barricade the door to meetings.   Police cars do patrol the parking lot of the meetings.   Citizens are told to remove their car from the parking lot.    There is a long delay in receiving requested documents.    At least one parent was asked to leave the board meeting and had to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of Ohio for justice.   That court ruled in her favor.  There is no transparency of public information.  They have been planning to destroy buildings and build new buildings and the citizens do not hear a word of their intentions until they put it on the ballot.  

Lebanon does have a record of not following through with the administration of the district. A case in point is the series of treasurers that could not/would not work with the board or the superintendent.     The current treasurer is the sixth treasurer since Bill Sears was the superintendent.   Sears replaced two competent CPA treasurers with Mary Beth Kemmer,  who took the blame for the mismanagement of the board and the superintendent.   Then Carey Furniss was given the position and he was replaced with Randy Bertram.    Randy went to Northwest School District and Eric Sotzing moved into the position from Middletown to replace Randy.    A well managed district would not have had to change treasurers that often.   As far as I know Bertram, Furniss and the original two treasurers are all at the same district that they left Lebanon to manage.    I was told that Mary Beth Kemmer went into another line of work.

Lebanon has a record of using school employees and school facilities to promote levies.  They were caught handing out signs at the bus garage, they were caught using the schools, the district paid for an expensive system to contact parents and had the records copied so that they could use that information to promote levy activities.   They hired consulting firms with stated agendas, but that provide information that can be used for levy promotion.  They called employees on election day to make sure they voted.  (A teacher told me her principal called her and asked her why she had not voted.)   Do they use paid time or take a vacation day to work on levies?   They do not clock in or out so who knows?

The worst thing they do is use the children to promote levies.   They encourage them to use that time as part of their "community service requirement."   Isn't that grand?   Students get to campaign for the union.    Remember at least 78% of the money goes toward raises.
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