Patton’s Propaganda Machine Springs Into Action!!

By Steve Bracci:

Superintendent Kamela Patton’s massive communications marketing propaganda machine kicked into action on Friday 4/14, shortly after I sent my post about parents being left off of certain of the School District’s review committees.  In apparent response to my post, the District proclaimed in an e-mail blast:

“At the April 11, 2017, School Board Meeting, the recommendation of Instructional Materials Review Committees for Fine Arts, French, HOPE, and Social Studies were approved by the Board.  The committees were comprised of parents, community members, teachers, and school administrators.”

I view the assertion that the committees were “comprised of parents” in one of four ways.

  1. The assertion is false.
  2. The assertion is misleading.
  3. The District is incompetent.
  4. The District simply could not care less about fully informing the public.

Taking these arguments one at a time —

Alternative #1:  The assertion is false.  While the School District says that the committees were comprised of parents, it is undeniable that the committees referenced in my post did not include any members labeled as “parents.”  Rather, the book review committees I mentioned labeled the members only as “community member,” “teacher” or “administrator.”  See here:

By contrast, other book review committees did specifically include a labeled “parent.”  See here:

So based on the information provided by the District, it would appear that the District’s statement that the committees included “parents” is false.

Alternative #2:  The assertion is misleading.  The District’s statement that “the committees were comprised of parents, community members, teachers, and school administrators” could be technically correct, but still be misleading to the public.  Yes, if there were 20 different textbook review committees, and 12 of them had parents but the other 8 did not, it would nevertheless be a technically true statement that the “committees” — collectively — included parents.  But that does not mean that each committee included a parent.   Again, a possible mislead of the public here.

Also, perhaps it’s the case that a “school administrator” or “teacher” may also be a “parent.”  But that’s not indicated on the various committee textbook selection forms.  Is the public supposed to forensically review each named teacher or administrator to determine if they also have children in the school system?

Alternative #3:  The District is Incompetent.  If certain committees included “teachers” or “school administrators” who are also “parents,” then the District staff was apparently too incompetent to think about labeling these individuals as both “teacher” and “parent.”  Would that have been too much to ask, in order for the public to understand this important process — a process in which our legislators in Tallahassee determined a need for at least one parent to be included?

Alternative #4:  The District simply could not care less about fully informing the public.  Same principle here.  If the District truly cared about the public and parent input, they would identify the “parent” on each committee.

Why is this distinction between “parents” vs. “administrators” or “community members” important?  Any teachers or administrators who are also parents are ultimately employed by Superintendent Patton, and receive their paychecks from the Patton administration.  They are therefore beholden (and potentially pressured) by the Patton Administration to choose the “right book” — meaning this whole textbook selection process is just smoke-and-mirrors.  I am not saying that all teachers or administrators cannot act independently, but a truly independent “parent” must be included as a check and balance.  A court opinion dealing with the Sunshine Law is analagous on this point:

“It would be equally ludicrous to hold that a certain committee is governed by the Sunshine Law when it consists of members of the public, who are presumably acting for the public, but hold a committee may escape the Sunshine Law if it consists of individuals who owe their allegiance to, and receive their salaries from, the governing authority.”

News-Press Pub. Co., Inc. v. Carlson, 410 So.2d 546, 548 (Fla. 2d DCA 1982).

So because Patton and her administration have a level of control over the teachers and administrators, it would be disingenuous to say that a teacher or administrator serving on a textbook review committee is acting as a “parent.”  Their independence may be lost.

This harkens me back to my guest appearance on the Joe Whitehead Show in Fall 2015.  A teacher called into the show to express concerns about the Collier County School District.  I asked her why teachers rarely speak publicly at school board meetings — and when they do why they almost never oppose the School District.  Her response was that teachers are “afraid” to speak out, and that they are “being watched” (ie monitored) by the School District.  So what independence does a hybrid teacher/ administrator “parent” reviewer really have?  I would argue potentially very little, without fear of reprisal.

I contend that this textbook review is all just typical District window dressing.  The District will pick whichever book the upper administration wants.

 

 

Collier School District’s Textbook Review Selection Process Violates Sunshine Law

By Steve Bracci:

 

In follow-up to yesterday’s post about the School District leaving parents off of its textbook review committees, it would also appear that the closed-door textbook review selection process violates Florida’s Sunshine Law.  A committee — such as a textbook review committee — cannot meet privately and “eliminate” or “rank” possible choices, even if they only make a “recommendation.”  Even if the school board has the ultimate final decision, the lower committee cannot do this outside of the Sunshine.

Here, the textbook review committees met privately and eliminated textbook choices down to one book per subject.  That one choice was then recommended to the School Board on 4/11/2017.  The School Board — having only one choice per subject to choose from — voted to adopt the recommendations.  A classic “rubber stamp.”

The law is clear, as summarized in a court opinion called  “Silver Express.”  (click case name for link):

Governmental advisory committees which have offered up structured recommendations such as here involved—at least those recommendations which eliminate opportunities for alternative choices by the final authority, or which rank applications for the final authority—have been determined to be agencies governed by the Sunshine Law. . . . .  In Spillis Candela & Partners, Inc. v. Centrust Savings Bank, 535 So.2d 694 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988), we stated:

“The law is quite clear. An ad hoc advisory board, even if its power is limited to making recommendations to a public agency and even if it possesses no authority to bind the agency in any way, is subject to the Sunshine Law. The committee here, made a ruling affecting the decision-making process and it was of significance. As a result, it was improper for the committee to reach its recommendation in private since that constituted a violation of the Sunshine Law.”

This is precisely what happened with these textbook review committees.   The met privately, they eliminated textbook choices and publishers, they made a final recommendation or selection, and they submitted it to the school board for final approval.

I believe this is a Sunshine Law violation, and thus the action of the Board to approve these textbook choices on 4/11/2017 is VOID.

Superintendent Patton Leaves Parents off of Textbook Review Committees in Violation of Florida Law

By Steve Bracci:

Superintendent Kamela Patton has once again proverbially thumbed her nose at Collier County parents, this time leaving them off of textbook review committees in violation of Florida law.

At the School Board meeting on April 11, 2017, Patton presented to the school board the final “selections” of the Superintendent’s textbook review committees.   The board then voted to approve all textbook selections.

Florida Statute 1006.283 states that “If a district school board chooses to implement its own instructional materials program, the school board shall adopt rules…which must include…Selection of reviewers, one or more of whom must be parents with children in public schools.

The textbooks for these 13 subjects were selected by committees with no parent member:

Middle School Civics, United States Government, Constitutional Law Honors, Court Procedures, Legal Systems & Concepts, Law Studies, Comprehensive Law Studies, AP United States Government & Politics, AP Comparative Government & Politics, Sociology, Psychology I & II, AP Psychology, AP Human Geography.

Click on the above links for proof.

These are important courses, and our Florida Legislature believes it is in the best interest of Florida citizens and students that the textbook review committees include at least one parent reviewer.  Apparently Superintendent Patton thinks that she is above the law enacted by our representatives in Tallahassee.

The snubbing of parents has been a theme with Superintendent Patton for years now, dating back to her planned 2013 closed door takeover of after school programs.  Back then the district announced the takeover a day before the end of the school year, and followed through with the takeover despite 700+ parents who signed a petition protesting the Patton Administration.  This episode ultimately led to the formation of the Parents ROCK organization (“Parents Rights of Choice for Kids”).

Four years later — and Patton is still disrespecting parents.

Folks, you should e-mail your school board members and the Superintendent, and demand that the school board’s approval of these 13 course textbooks must be rescinded since they are void ab initio in violation of Florida law.

A complete do-over is required — WITH PARENT REPRESENTATION!

Send your emails to:

Lichter, Kelly <lichteke@collierschools.com>; Donalds, Erika <donale@collierschools.com>; Carter, Erick <cartee1@collierschools.com>; Lucarelli, Stephanie <lucars@collierschools.com>; Terry, Roy <TerryRo@collierschools.com>; Patton, Kamela <patton@collierschools.com>

 

 

“RED FLAG!” – Why Is Superintendent Patton Resisting an independent audit??

By Steve Bracci:

At the April 11, 2017, school board meeting in Everglades City, Collier County School Superintendent Kamela Patton practically commandeered the meeting in order to fight tooth-and-nail against having an independent auditor review the school district’s financial and operational practices.  Patton has been successful in fending off such an independent audit since the beginning of her reign in 2011.

Patton’s filibustering resistance was so strong that board member Erika Donalds — herself a CPA and CFO of a large financial services company — told the board that in the private world, if a CEO such as Patton so strongly resisted an independent audit, it would be a major “RED FLAG.”

Board member Kelly Lichter joined in calling out the “RED FLAG.”

District General Counsel Jon Fishbane — who may be retained or fired by the Superintendent and therefore serves at her will rather than the board’s — went beyond simply providing legal guidance and seemingly advocated a position against an audit, steering the conversation in other directions.  Fishbane has served alongside Patton since the beginning of her reign in 2011.

Remember back in January how Obama bragged that his administration was “scandal free?”  They thought that Trump would never beat Hillary, and therefore the skeletons would never be revealed.  Look how much has now turned up in a couple months’ time under the eyes of Trump and his new administrators.

Could it be that Superintendent Patton does not want an independent auditor looking under the hood?  It sure seems that way.

And oh, by the way, Patton sure seems comfortable with that Gallagher company that she hand-picked to conduct a lesser review.

I will link to the school board video once it is posted.

Blue Zones, Sunshine, and the Naples Daily News

By Steve Bracci:

“Kicks” to the Naples Daily News editorial board for its April 1 print edition piece supporting the Blue Zones Project® by stating that “Government should be in the Sunshine ……unless perhaps that shade is blue.”  This is hypocrisy, or perhaps the editors are just April fools.

Taken literally, the NDN editorial board is saying that it is just fine that our various local governments’ participation in Blue Zones occurs behind closed doors and outside of public view.   Why not, since the Naples Daily News’  paw prints are all over it?

In June 2015, the Blue Zones Project manager e-mailed the Blueprint to the steering committee, instructing that “this document shall not be public record or shared until after you have signed and approved it in July.”  Naples Daily News President Barker – with first-hand knowledge of this instruction to conceal a public record – apparently went along.

The NDN’s three-person editorial board includes its president, William “Bill” Barker.  In 2015, Barker joined the “Blue Zones Project Steering Committee” that met behind closed doors alongside 6 local government officials including Superintendent Kamela Patton and County Commissioner Penny Taylor.  Their purpose:  to orchestrate the for-profit Blue Zones Project’s® infiltration into our local governments and other elite local establishments.   It was all described in a Blue Zones Blueprint developed by Barker and his fellow steering committee members.  In June 2015, the Blue Zones Project manager e-mailed the Blueprint to the steering committee, instructing that “this document shall not be public record or shared until after you have signed and approved it in July.”

Naples Daily News President Barker – with first-hand knowledge of this instruction to conceal a public record – apparently went along.  Barker’s NDN newspaper never reported on the contents of the Blueprint, nor on the fact that our public officials were about to sign it.  Worse yet, Superintendent Patton kept that document from the public until a school board member forced her to produce it.  Despite the public not having seen the Blueprint, Barker ran an editorial two days before the school district’s final 9/8/2015 vote, telling readers that “the debate is over” and that the school district should adopt the very Blueprint that Barker helped to conceal.

This is what our local newspaper of record calls “Blue Zones in the Sunshine.”

Click here for the Naples Daily News editorial.

Whither the Parents??

David Bolduc, President, Parents Rights of Choice for Kids, Inc. (“Parents ROCK”)

January 8, 2017

In a Daily News article regarding Collier County’s high school graduation rate increase, Superintendent Kamela Patton stated, “We appreciate the efforts of our dedicated teachers, staff and our strong community partners.” Which begs the question, what happened to parents? Do they no longer exist? Apparently, according to Superintendent Patton’s statement, they have been replaced by her community partners.

Superintendent Kamela Patton stated, “We appreciate the efforts of our dedicated teachers, staff and our strong community partners.” Which begs the question, what happened to parents? Do they no longer exist?

With this in mind, and since we are in NFL Playoff season, Parents ROCK, the parent advocacy group which encourages more transparency and accountability at the Collier County School District, would like to throw a red challenge flag on a recent guest editorial by one of Patton’s community partners, Maria Jimenez-Lara, CEO of the Naples Children and Education Foundation.

Specifically, Parents ROCK feels that Ms. Jimenez-Lara’s claim of Collier’s increasing graduation rate is indicative of superior classroom performance, should go under the hood for further review from different angles where student achievement can be compared across District and State lines.

Perhaps no nationally normed achievement test does a better job of measuring the effectiveness of a school district preparing their students to succeed in college and careers as the ACT. For those of you not familiar with the ACT, it measures selected skills and acquired knowledge in high school and is designed to predict the likelihood of student success in freshman college courses.

For 2014-15, the last ACT test year posed on the Collier School District website, 18 percent of Collier County students tested college ready in all four subjects; English, Math, Reading and Science. Comparatively, 19 percent of Florida students tested college ready in all four subjects, while 28 percent of students across the nation tested college ready in all four subjects. In other words, not only do we trail the state in this key academic achievement measurement, but Collier County is 36 percent below the national average in preparing our students to succeed in college.

Interestingly, in 2010-11, the last year Patton was in a senior leadership role at Dade County Public Schools, Dade County experienced a similar dramatic increase with their graduation rate, yet the Miami Herald reported in December 2012, “In 2010-11, 54 percent of students coming out of high school failed at least one subject on the Florida College System’s placement test, Florida’s remedial education needs are much greater than in many other states, and the numbers are worse at Miami Dade College [175,000 students] where 63 percent of high school graduates take at least one remedial course upon enrollment.”

Couple Superintendent Patton’s ACT State and National underperformance with her stated goal to transition Collier County Public Schools towards digital learning, where teachers no longer control classroom content and are relegated to facilitators of state approved content, and Collier students are facing some very difficult student achievement headwinds.

In 2015, MIT published a paper where they studied Economics courses at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and found average final exam scores among students assigned to classrooms that allowed computer learning were 18 percent lower than exam scores in classrooms that prohibited computers. In other words, digital learning lowered test scores of highly intelligent and motivated West Point Cadets by an astonishing 18 percent. The MIT study further warned, “We also find modest evidence that computer usage is most detrimental to male students and to students who entered the course with a high grade point average (GPA).” This finding might explain why the number of Collier County students scoring a 5, the highest score, on AP Biology, AP Chemistry and AP Physics has decreased by 83 percent since Superintendent Patton’s arrival in 2011.

Overall, although Collier County spends close to a billion of your tax dollars on an annual basis to tout higher graduation rates, they appear to be smoke and mirrors. Yes, more students are graduating from high school; however, many are not prepared for the real world, and unfortunately, a vast majority are not “college and career ready”. Parents ROCK is all for celebrating student success, let’s just make sure the measurable being celebrated relates to student achievement.