Imagine All the People Living Life in Peace – Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 from the Westies and Keyboard (who is now three years old, she wants everyone to know). 

We’re grateful for friends old and new, here in Gilbert, Arizona and across the world. Today, a special thought: Je suis Paris. We’re all in this world together.

Just in case you’re concerned we’re going all sentimental or something, we’ll remind folks why this blog exists. At some point, Gilbert Public Schools, a third of a BILLION dollar per year tax boondoggle for the benefit of a chosen few in the administration and their nearest and dearest pals, will have to come clean and focus on educating the children in the district … or lose students to other districts and charter schools. Based on recent events, we recommend you don’t hold your breath while waiting for the right kind of change from the new cast of Good Old Boys and Carpetbaggers. We’ll have in-depth coverage on the situation in coming weeks as we continue our quest.

As a reminder of one thing that’s at stake, here’s a blast from the past:

Thanksgiving 2013:  It happens every year — come holiday season, GPS zeroes in on a selected employee. This is institutionalized in the Gilbert Public Schools “Progressive Documentation” policy and process, but it seems to be so gosh-darn FUN for these guys, they do it over and over and over!

That’s a Gilbert tradition — when you’re going to be cruel to employees, exert maximum malice and hit that unsuspecting employee just before a holiday or a break.

Peace out.

GPS Recycles an Inequitable Stepless Salary Schedule, Thinking Teachers Won’t Notice

Some teachers continue to believe that Gilbert Public Schools will come through on the raises that were promised if the 2015 tax override passed. These folks may have “The Heart of a Teacher,” but they still don’t understand that their hearts will be broken.

When the GPS board held a work study session that included discussion of a new stepless salary schedule for certified employees (teachers), Good Old Christina 3-2 Kishimoto recycled the same eduspeak* and slides that the board had rejected just a few months before. The board actually sent the superintendent and her cabinet back to work on their proposal with some specific guidance. Westie was so proud of those teachers!

We salute you teachers who spoke the truth to power about that Stepless Salary Schedule. You succeeded in getting that can kicked down the road for at least another year. Not that the pay scale will become any fairer, the top dogs just will *incentivize* you folks to be the ones who leave the district next year.

What Christina 3-2 Kishimoto and her staff presented at the first board get-together after they won their override was the same old stuff. They didn’t even try to pretend otherwise.

When asked how teachers would be able to earn more money, or at least earn salaries at the upper levels of the stepless schedule, the answer was that Christina and the Carpetbaggers haven’t gotten around to figuring out that level of detail. They blathered some mumbo-jumbo about Master Teachers, but they’re not sure what that would actually mean. They’re absolutely positive, though, that Gilbert Public Schools will no longer allow teachers to advance through courses called Professional Development. No sirree, the only way to advance in this new scheme is through additional formal graduate education.  You know, the classes that cost (conservatively) around $500 per semester hour. THOSE teachers might see $65.00 extra in their paychecks. That’s real critical thinking from true educrats. They must truly believe that will incentivize teachers … the reality of this nonsense is more like a direct route into the poor house for people who figure a 20 year return on investment is a pretty good idea.

Some perceptive folks with Hearts of Teachers are trying to alert their colleagues that the unicorns, rainbows and pixie dust are not going to materialize, not while Christina 3-2 Kishimoto controls the GPS governing board. Loyal GPS teachers deserve much better than the pittance this carpetbagger administration will deign to toss in their direction. One commenter pointed out that the details that have yet to be made public appear to be just more hoops that teachers have to jump through:

No one could explain a single component of the performance pay part of the schedule is not even close to being finalized. Two board members desired that test scores not be the “sole” standard for merit pay, but no specifics were even outlined. So if I were a teacher listening to the Work Study, I know that I can move within a cell by either reimbursement for college classes or by doing extra stuff via the Master Teacher component. But I have no idea how much more I’d make if I became part of the Master Teacher thing.

Don’t believe Westie? Here are Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s words about her intentions, emailed just recently. “This board approved addressing staff salaries as the number one priority of the Override. Simultaneously, we will continue to look at effective recruitment practices where there are vacancies. Thus, both matters are important. As I have mentioned throughout this year, my priority is to retain our talent and minimize or normalize the turnover.”  Could the GPS superintendent have made a more totally tone-deaf comment? Teachers, she just told you to stuff it, as she has told you many times in the past.

Christina Kishimoto is going to continue paying newly hired teachers more than the loyal ones are paid. She’s going to incentivize you older, experienced employees right out of the district. Then she can hire new graduates for less money. She will kind-of, sort-of balance the loss of experience by hiring retirees through SmartSchoolsPlus at lower salaries. She does not care that this pound-foolishness will destroy the retirement system. Christina Kishimoto won’t be here when her strategies implode. Haven’t you noticed how she is busily burnishing her resume with all her talk about that national reputation stuff? In her mind, she’s got one foot out the door already.

Teachers who want the quid pro quo they were promised, and the GPS parents who supported those teachers and rallied to get the 2015 override passed, are not happy. Christina Kishimoto does not care. One teacher sparked a discussion about the double standard that appears to be operative with respect to the GPS stepless salary scheme:

If the Stepless Salary is approved by the board, will the “Chiefs” who currently hold positions in the district be required to return to an accredited college to attain their doctoral degrees too? No mention has been made regarding this. Will the GPS board also require Dr. Kishimoto to take additional college courses? For example, she could take graduate courses that would focus on methods of teaching young, special needs children, including understanding language development and education assessment tools, in order for her to attain a balanced blend of knowledge, practice, and theory, to be a well-rounded and successful superintendent.

Silly rabbits, Christina Kishimoto doesn’t even have an Arizona Superintendent Certificate and she doesn’t need one. Oh yeah, we remember when Silly JiLily were clamoring about how important it was for the new superintendent to have education credentials and a superintendent certificate. Then they picked Christina Kishimoto, who picked up an Ed.D. degree when she wasn’t too successful in business or public policy positions. We haven’t met anyone except Silly JiLily and Douple Dipper Charlie Santa Cruz who consider Christina Kishimoto to be successful as a school district superintendent, but it’s a bit late for any corrective measures even if they should come to their senses in the next year and a half of Kishimoto’s contract. Sigh.

Here’s what Perceptive People were saying about Christina Kishimoto six months ago:

Seems ironic that we hired a new, expensive superintendent (“expert”) who is not an educator and was never a teacher to come in and run off our great teachers by showing them such disrespect … then have her tell us that her strategic plan values our staff. NEWS FLASH … what parents value the most is our teachers and staff!!!!

Has anything changed? No.

*Big Fat Asterisk: Eduspeak: words used to describe various education programs or initiatives or theories that often wind up sowing confusion or rendering important ideas incomprehensible. has an eduspeak generator that helps parents level the playing field when dealing with GPS administrators. Try it! Ask a GPS cabinet member, “When will the district disintermediate top-down outcomes within the core curriculum?” That’s a good one following your review of your child’s AzMERIT scores.

Gilbert Classical Academy Suffers a Stunning Marketing Fail

By now, everyone knows that Gilbert Public Schools is going all out to enshrine Gilbert Classical Academy in a new campus, no matter what it costs. After all, these kids are the top 1% and they deserve more money than lesser students in GPS.

This is Goal Number 3 for the GPS Governing Board“Identify a permanent location for Gilbert Classical Academy and finalize a comprehensive plan to support full implementation of the school design.” Now that the interminable 2015 bond and override election is over, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto will be able to cash out  get moving on the promises she must have made  plans she has been holding in reserve.

At one point, the famously inept GPS Marketing Department linked their Facebook page to student comments about Gilbert Classical Academy. It was another spectacular marketing fail: it looks like no one read what the kids actually wrote. Westie to the rescue!

Student Culture & Diversity: Everyone’s either white or Asian and if you don’t fit in, you’re going to get bullied.

Food: I don’t really eat much in general, but I can tell our cafeteria food could do with quite a bit of improvement. Over the last few years we have lost variety and quality.

Administration & Policies: We rarely have any disciplinary issues due to the nature of our school, so any violation of the rules, no matter how minor, is immediately stomped on.

Sports & Fitness: We don’t have athletic facilities. We hardly have enough classrooms. The PE classes used to be in portables, unfortunately, this year somebody decided that it would be a great idea to give the PE department not just two locker rooms, but a health and workout room as well. We lost four of our classrooms, forcing the upperclassmen to have nearly all of their classes in portables.

Teachers: A number of our teachers are fantastic, the best of the best, but the ones that aren’t absolutely fantastic should never have been hired in the first place.

Extracurriculars: Participating in a club at GCA doesn’t benefit you at all. I participated in multiple the first few years, but all clubs seem to start out strong and then weaken as the years go by. They lose their fun, for anyone, and become more hostile than anything else. Between having little money and a low commitment requirement, clubs aren’t enjoyable and even less beneficial. You learn nothing at a club, yet the teacher sponsors insist on putting extra and unnecessary work and stress on students, creating issues that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. In the end, all you get is a number of years and certain amount of time wasted to put on college applications.

Student Culture & Diversity: Meh. There is nothing wrong about student culture. How can there be something wrong with something that doesn’t exist?

Sports & Fitness: There are absolutely no opportunities at this school for sports. You can do whatever sport you want (guaranteed that you won’t get cut, because nobody ever tries out), but teams rarely ever do well.

Extracurriculars: The clubs are easy to make, but lack funding. Most clubs don’t do much at all. Sports are horrible unless you are on the swim team, most sports have the bare minimum number required to play trying out. Nobody is good at sports here.

Perhaps the largest complaint I can issue about this school is the small campus that is unable to house the amount of students that it does and the lack of facilities for all of the things the “normal schools” are able to do. The fact that we do not have a gym, fields, a stage, and enough science labs and classrooms makes it difficult for the school to function with its increasing population. Efforts to expand the campus have failed due to discourse among the district school board.

Academics: Academics are extremely rigorous and we are often bombarded with a healthy amount of homework. Students feel challenged, but not to the point where the work is unbearable. Most of the teachers are very proficient, understanding, and interactive with their students which creates a unique bond in the classroom, however, some teachers tend to be inflexible which has cause some strife with grade-obsessed students. We get very little choices when it comes to classes, so there is little to say about popularity, but most students enjoy the classes we are required to take anyway.

Academics: The school succeeds because it attracts the best students from all over the city. The teachers give out way to much homework and the students are type A people who do whatever it takes to get an “A” in the class. The instruction is not superior. The students waste a lot of time on busy work homework.

Educational Outcomes: While we were all quite academically prepared, it was not the traditional high school experience, so some students may have been shocked at the actual college experience or maybe felt behind in some classes since we did not have any options in choosing classes.

Extracurriculars: We are a very small school: about 450 students across 6 grades (7-12). Our opportunities are limited, mainly due to our small size and poor campus.

Sports & Fitness: GCA never really cared about winning. We just did sports so we can put it on our resume and hang out with friends after school. The pep assemblies kind of suck. (They are cute… but no one really gets into it) We do not have cheerleaders, or a football team, and there are only a handful of truly athletic students.

Thank you, GPS marketing Department, for this little bonanza. We couldn’t have said anything better than what GCA students have to say for themselves. Maybe someone will send you pizza and cannolis again and you can post another photo on the GPS Official Facebook page. That’s REAL marketing, isn’t it?

Homer Simpson career advice: “If adults don’t like their jobs, they don’t go on strike. They just go in every day and do it really half-@$$ed. That’s the American Way.”

Remember, you could have had Westie for Superintendent. Westie would have hired some really competent people for all kinds of jobs in GPS. Even more valuable, Westie knows things: it doesn’t cost $77,000 a year for website hosting. Hey GoDaddy, please ride in on a white horse and SAVE GPS from the court of public opinion.

2015 Election Fallout for Gilbert Public Schools

Now that the 2015 all-mail override and bond election is over and done, Westie can predict the future. No crystal ball needed, because what’s past is prologue and anyone can see the seeds of discord have been firmly implanted in the Town of Gilbert among its residents and taxpayers. Local media has all the information about exactly how the election was won, lost, maneuvered, manipulated, etc. Let’s focus on the aftermath.

The community is more divided now than ever. That Great Divide was pretty big in 2012 and 2013 when overrides were defeated. The divide rivaled the Grand Canyon in 2014 when the board voted 3-2 NOT to go to voters for an override. Christina 3-2 Kishimoto was at the helm for that vote.

We’ve already discussed how the Superintendent’s leadership has contributed to the dysfunction of the Governing Board and its disconnect with a large swath of the Gilbert community. Now we have the 2015 divide and it is uglier than before, especially since the statewide school funding lawsuit has been settled. No matter: the usual suspects are still complaining that schools STILL don’t have enough money, but that’s a subject for another day. You know Westie will have plenty to post on that subject.

Here’s a symptom of how the arrogance Christina 3-2 Kishimoto has transmogrified a member of the GPS Governing Board. Silly Jilly Humpherys, in her perpetual campaign for a board seat Facebook page, has taken to calling anyone who doesn’t agree with her “these people.” Silly Jilly is adamant about *educating* people until they see things her way and agree to cough up more money for GPS to squander:

Jill Humpherys: As with anyone, these people have freedom of speech. There is no way to report misinformation. We can speak out for what is right for kids by educating family and friends, volunteering to walk neighborhoods and to man phone banks. A resounding win at the polls for students, families, teachers and staff, and the community is the only way to let these people know that we care about students and education.

What’s wrong with using “these people” in reference to someone who doesn’t agree with you? These people” is a stereotypical insult in civilized circles within US culture, right there with references to “you people.” No one in civilized discourse would use those phrases innocently — their usage is intentional and determined to insult, disparage and isolate the person thus targeted. It’s racist. It’s evil. It’s wrong. The real question is whether or not Silly Jilly knows this contextual framework, or is she parroting someone else’s words, as she has been known to do. Sometimes Silly Jilly reads long diatribes that she can’t memorize, but that’s a topic for another day.

Labeling “these people” and “you people” and flogging  nagging   berating  them is a symptom of community discord and disarray, something that has become Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s legacy for Gilbert Public Schools. Her constant references to the business community would make a reasonable person assume that businesses and local Chambers of Commerce are her new BFFs  her staunch allies in advocating for more, more and more funding for education.  That’s not quite true, as with many things Christina 3-2 Kishimoto wants the public to believe:

So, you’d think when Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas calls for the state to immediately put $400 million in state budget surplus money toward hiring more teachers and boosting teacher pay, there would be plenty of backing from business types.

Guess again. Top business groups aren’t getting behind Douglas’ call for a special session of the Arizona Legislature to put surplus cash in the classrooms. Some business groups also want to wait to see what happens with a lawsuit brought by K-12 school contending they’ve been shorted inflation payments by the Legislature. That lawsuit could cost $331 million or as much as $1.3 billion if courts side with school contentions.

Bottom line: there still will be contentious arguments about funding schools in Arizona. In the Town of Gilbert, though, animosity has reached a peak not seen before. Silly Jilly Humpherys and her pals hurled the epithet “LIES” whenever they didn’t like something someone said or posted on a political sign. When an opposing viewpoint sign was posted, one of Silly Jilly’s acolytes posted, “Come remove your lying filth from my neighborhood.” How neighborly. How typical of how GPS denizens have come to behave. This person is a teacher, whose eagerly anticipated raise, if it materializes, won’t offset tax increases with or without the override and bond.

“Lies, lies, lies” lead people to spurn any attempt to bridge differences. You would think folks would be saying, “But it’s for the children,” as they crowed while demanding more tax money for GPS. But those folks don’t want to come together. Some things never change:

Homer Simpson’s words of wisdomBS: “It takes two to lie: one to lie and one to listen.”
Mark Twain’s famous comment: “A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.”

There were companion charges, such as, “The opposition is putting misleading information and downright lies out there about the impact of this election on taxes.”

Back to Homer Simpson: “Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that.”
Mark Twain again: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

At the end of the day, Mark Twain wins with this observation: “In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.”

Teach your children well.  Peace out.
<Wish we had been on the Queen Mary 2 this year with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Sigh.>

Gilbert Public Schools – Still a Day Late and a Dollar Short with Technology

Remember all that money GPS, under the *leadership* of Christina 3-2 Kishimoto, spent for technology? “We’re putting devices in the hands of students!” they crowed. Lots of people tried to warn the top dogs in the Great White Temple of Doom, but most of those folks have little or no actual experience in a classroom, so they believed all would be well.

No matter how many people tried to get those tops dogs, who make outrageous salaries compared to teachers and support staff, to look at what has happened in Los Angeles Public Schools as an example, it was like talking to a brick wall. “Los Angeles bought Ipads, and we bought Chromebooks, so there’s no comparison,” the top dogs replied.

The idea was certainly huge, requiring the purchase of 650,000 Apple iPads, networking gear and educational software from Pearson — all at a cost of nearly $1.3 billion. L.A. Schools Superintendent John Deasy, who launched the program in 2013, also saw it as a way to help the city’s low-income students.

Today, LAUSD is exploring possible litigation against Apple and Pearson, the world’s largest education publishing company, to recoup millions of dollars; a criminal grand jury is investigating possible ethics violations by district officials; the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched their own inquiries into possible wrong-doing; and Deasy resigned.*

What happened in Los Angeles could happen here in Gilbert. LAUSD had a superintendent who was a darling of the reformy crowd and their moneybags. GPS has a superintendent who famously got herself canned in Hartford, Connecticut as a result of her communication skills or lack thereof. This is what happens when a superintendent who has never taught in the K-12 environment sets out to reform everything in her path.

First, Westie warned that the kids were smarter than the adults running the asylum  Gilbert Public Schools.  “Fiddle-dee-dee,” said Christina 3-2 Kishimoto.  She was going to spend money and spend it big, no matter what!

Second, by the first of September, GPS had a crisis on their hands as a result of their own failure to communicate. The first rebellion was about student email accounts. Parents didn’t like that their precious kiddies had personal email addresses and other Great Google Games & Gifts that were bestowed by GPS without parental permission.  GPS wore parents down, talking technology and processes and edu-jargon that was intended to confuse parents who spoke up. GPS top dogs thought they had won the war. Hahahaha!

Someone must have realized that GPS was going to have to talk to that rebellious population of parents, so they set up a series of “Parent Technology Forums” that were to be held in October. That was a long time into the future, as any junior high school student could have told those GPS top dogs. Holding their noses at the stench of the unwashed masses known as parents, the techies sallied forth.  GPS decided once again that teachers are a great source of unpaid labor, so the Powers That Be assigned teachers and students to demonstrate to the assembled groups of parents what actually goes on in a junior high school classroom.

Hey Sleazy Steve Smith: the plural of “forums” is “fora.” Usually. Smart word choice and selective sentence structure can help you avoid having to use the plural. Maybe one of those high school Language Arts teachers could help you edit your correspondence so you don’t get embarrassed (again and again and again).

Something must have gone awry with giving those junior high schoolers all the power of a Google Chromebook before GPS figured out that parents needed to be involved in the situation. Sure enough, about a week after GPS sent out announcements about the Parent Technology Forums, another email was disseminated by the Techie Department, which admits the adults were outsmarted by the kids. You folks do know, don’t you, that the kids used their smart phones to ask Google how to hack the Chromebooks, don’t you? At least, that was one of the ways the kids won. Here’s the email:

With the problems some studnets [sic] have experienced with connectivity at home Technology Services has released the following statement.

Due to the issues we continue to have with our iBoss filtering of the Chromebooks at home, Technology Services will be implementing a new solution called “GoGuardian” today.

GoGuardian provides the most advanced filtering and monitoring for our Chromebooks.  GoGuardian is also FERPA compliant and will help our Jr. High schools meet CIPA and FERPA requirements.

The students will only see one change when trying to access blocked websites. A screen will appear saying “Website Blocked” and have a padlock under it.

The other change is that some websites that were not blocked may now be blocked by GoGuardian. If this is the case, please have the teacher or school contact the HelpDesk.

By the end of September 2015, GPS and its Technology Department were asking vendors for help. Although Christina 3-2 Kishimoto and Sleazy Steve Smith had made public presentations to the Governing Board about their great technology plans, when push came to shove, GPS still doesn’t know much about the technology the district will need to make good on promises they made when GPS was spending like crazy so they could demand more money in an override.

Here’s what GPS thinks is important for potential vendors to know:

Exploration of a digital (online) curriculum platform began immediately following the Board’s adoption of the 2014-2017 Strategic Operating Plan. This major strategic initiative was identified as a result of the Superintendent’s assessment of the quality and accessibility of the district curriculum, and a review of internal processes for curriculum reviews and updates. Two immediate action steps were identified: 1) the development of an updated Curriculum Framework which was presented to the Governing Board on December, 2014, and 2) the appointment of a Steering Committee by Superintendent Kishimoto to define project goals and review viable digital platform options.

There’s more self-congratulatory edu-jargon in the GPS Vision, along with that *national* thingy that’s so important to Christina 3-2 Kishimoto:

“Gilbert Public Schools will implement a Digital Curriculum Platform that is easily accessible to staff, students and parents, sustainable through an effective business model, has the potential to become a model at the state and national levels, and results in increased academic engagement and performance for all students.”

Bottom line: GPS doesn’t know its asterisk from its elbow, but maybe some nice vendors who want to relieve the district of a few million dollars will respond and take GPS out of its misery. Where have we seen this before? Oh yes. Another technology debacle that’s STILL a problem for GPS. Let’s get back to the Request for Information at hand:

There are two primary aspects to the business model to be used to ensure quality, currency, oversight and evaluation. While financial investment will be required, it is important that the District works within available resources.

 1. Identify a lead partner or partners who are willing to invest time, expertise and/or funding in the GPS Digital Curriculum Platform. Partners can be digitally focused large or small businesses, local universities or a consortium of neighboring school districts. This partnership model will ensure affordability for the District.

2. Contained in this November 2015 Bond Election is a seven year period to fund a Digital Curriculum Platform. During this period the funding needed for textbooks will decrease and be redistributed to maintain and monitor the GPS Digital Curriculum Platform.

There they go – GPS is betting big (and getting vendors to spend money replying to this solicitation) BEFORE anyone knows the outcome of the November 2015 election. See how Sleazy Steve lives up to his name: “Response For Information Due Date: October 22, 2015, 2:00 P.M. AZ Time.”

Big Fat Asterisk: Surely you want to know how disgraced former LAUSD superintendent John Deasy is doing these days. In his new position at The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems,  Deasy will serve as a consultant and superintendent-in-residence for the Broad Academy, the center’s training and coaching program for urban public education leaders.

How GPS *Leadership* Created a Great Divide in the Gilbert Community

The push for a new tax override and bond issue for Gilbert Public Schools is going into overdrive in the Town of Gilbert. It’s more of the same old stuff.

Here’s a blast from the past by Good Old Mike McClellan, the self-appointed spokesman for GPS (since the folks who are being paid to do that public relations stuff can’t manage their way out of a paper bag). This appeared in the Arizona Republic on March 10, 2000 — the similarities to today are notable, but the differences are intriguing:

As a parent and a taxpayer in Gilbert, I am pleased with the Gilbert School Board’s decision to ask for a 4 percent override election (although I would be happy to vote for a 10 percent override, which most of the surrounding East Valley school districts are asking).

After a decade of underfunding by the Symington administration and the state Legislature, our schools have fallen dangerously behind. Gilbert is a fine school district with wonderful teachers, support staff, and administrators. If it continues to fall behind, however, I fear the district will not be competitive with our neighboring districts in attracting the best teachers for our children.

Our teachers also deserve adequate compensation for the jobs they perform so well. To attract and retain the best educators, I urge my fellow citizens of Gilbert to vote for the override.

And I also urge them to consider the major opponent of the override – the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce. While I understand its desire to keep property tax sufficiently low to attract new business, I am outraged by the short-sightedness of its conflicting messages. On the one hand, businesses throughout the country decry the lack of an educated employee pool from which to select. On the other hand, the Gilbert chamber thinks that quality education can be done on the cheap.

I am stunned that at this time of economic boom, Sandy Ramsey, the chairman of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, has the gall to write, “Increasing property taxes at this time is an ill-advised, short-term solution.” Ms. Ramsey, if not now, when? Of course, Ms. Ramsey also writes, “The chamber would like to commit our resources and support to affect (sic) change at the state level. It is time the education community and the business community stand united to ensure a quality work force for our future.”

I would like to know where both the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and the state Chamber of Commerce have been over the last decade. Certainly a business-friendly bunch like our state legislators might have been more willing to adequately fund our state’s public education with some pressure from the state’s business interests. I don’t remember, though, reading of any pressure put on the state by the Chambers of Commerce to increase funding.

I have lived in Gilbert for over 10 years now, and my family and I have intentionally shopped at Gilbert businesses over those years, even if the prices were higher. I can safely say, though, that I will not shop in Gilbert until after the results of the override election. And I would urge other Gilbert residents to do the same.

By golly, Mike would GLADLY pay a whole lot more taxes for schools. Hey, that’s what some of the supporters of the present override are spouting!

A post included in the Higley and Gilbert pamphlets, suggests “a 50 percent tax increase,” adding, “I’ll pay whatever they ask for, no questions asked! That’s the way government works.” Another reads, “We have a district administration and hundreds of others administrative positions that need to be supported … It’s NOT all about the classroom.”

More important is the division in the community that comes through loud and clear in the voter information pamphlets. This is a direct result of Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s “leadership” since she arrived on the scene in Gilbert, Arizona.

The accusations of irregularities in school-election pamphlets appear to be firsts for the county, according to the county attorney’s office. But they illuminate the community friction the districts have attracted in recent school elections as well as the county’s lack of oversight in verifying the legitimacy of voter-submitted statements.

Some people ask why Westie calls her *Christina 3-2 Kishimoto.* An important aspect of school district leadership is bringing constituents together for the good of the students. Christina 3-2 Kishimoto chose her acolytes carefully, probably even before she arrived on the scene, and her choices were calculated to divide the community. You saw the results of her calculation last year in the run-up to the school board election, when Silly Jilly Humpherys won standing ovations for just showing up at events. Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz cruised in using his close ties to all the old Good Old Boys that bailed out of GPS when their shenanigans became public knowledge. The Gilbert Education Association put hundreds of boots on the ground and attracted tens of thousands of dollars for political action committees that had one purpose: elect Silly Jilly and Good Old Charlie. They succeeded. Now GPS students will pay the piper as the Rubber Stamp Governing Board writes Christina 3-2 Kishimoto a blank check.

The important thing about 3-2 votes on the GPS Governing Board is that other school district superintendents, Kishimoto’s *peers,* watch and laugh at what’s happening in Gilbert Public Schools. We’ve already figured out that a national reputation is what this superintendent craves, and by golly, she doesn’t care how she gets it. Each 3-2 vote, which occurred with the 2014 school board as well as the 2015 school board, is a black eye for Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s reputation. We can’t wait to see what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto has in mind after the election in November 2015, whether she succeeds in getting more taxes for the district or not. Where can we buy popcorn futures?

Other education professionals look at GPS and wonder why in the world a wealthy school district would hire someone who had been fired from her previous job. Some people have opined that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto was everyone’s second choice, which is fairly reasonable assumption under the circumstances. Others say it was spite and malice and the result of a board that was generally divided 3-2 on just about everything. Whatever the reason, we take comfort in knowing that superintendents all over the country recognize what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto brings to her job: not much.

Too many superintendents adopt the patronizing stance of board-savvy manipulator, undermining the board-superintendent relationship and diminishing the board’s potential. Too many board members, and too many administrators, assume that board members must be tutored by administrators or consultants who used to be administrators—“professionals” who “know best” what board members should do, and sometimes what board members should think. In fact, the superintendent has an inherent conflict of interest if she tries to interpret for board members what they should or should not think or do as board members.

Christina 3-2 Kishimoto: not ready for the big leagues. Students in Gilbert Public Schools: paying the price for her incompetence.

Gilbert Public Schools and Sneaky School Design Maneuvers

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Gilbert PUBLIC SCHOOL system was actually responsive to the PUBLIC that pays its bills?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Superintendent of the PUBLIC school district gave a speech on the state of those schools in a public venue where members of the public were actually invited to attend? GPS takes business out of the public eye at every opportunity, this time to another private religious university, at an event hosted by a private foundation, to discuss what’s going on in the public school district. You even have to RSVP to attend the State of the Schools 2015 speech — but notice there’s nothing on the announcement about how much it will cost you to find out how GPS schools are doing these days.*

Notice who is buying breakfast: an architecture company called orcutt|winslow. Wonder who will get the contract for the new GCA campus?? Haven’t we seen all this before? No no, GPS, say it ain’t so!

Oh gee, GPS hasn’t announced their new construction plans … but they put “construction” into board goals and such, just in case.

You didn’t know the GPS Governing Board adopted their goals for the 2015-2016 school year? For all you loyal employees who expected salary equity and raises to be a priority, you’re going to be chasing that unicorn and rainbow for a long, long time. Here are the goals the GPS Governing Board adopted:

1. Establish a baseline district ­level Academic Data Dashboard that can be utilized as a district “report card,” which will be used to annually report on student achievement growth and success based on key performance indicators.
2. Utilize the 2014-­15 Demographic Study to identify future priorities related to enrollment, space utilization, construction, and school design. Establish an on­going process for periodic review of demographic data.
3. Identify a permanent location for Gilbert Classical Academy and finalize a comprehensive plan to support full implementation of the school design.

They’re using edu-jargon, again, to confuse and misdirect the masses. “Data dashboard” sounds really fancy, but creating it is not a complex task, especially not in this day and age. GPS has all kinds of expensive hardware and software from last year’s Great Buying Spree; you have to wonder why none of the Powers That Be ever figured out how to assemble all that data. Westie still wonders why the top *educators* in GPS can’t write a decent sentence. Or paragraph. Or email message. Sheeeesh.

GPS Governing Board Goal Number 1 is really run on and deficient in comma usage. It looks like it’s just a series of edu-jargon buzz words. The GPS Governing Board is pretending all this technology is something new, but it’s not. And it’s not really effective in fixing the problems in education:

If a private company is failing to make a profit, no one expects that state-of-the-art data centers, better productivity software, and new laptops for all of the employees will turn things around. Yet, that is exactly the logic of so many attempts to fix education with technology.

GPS Governing Board Goal Number 2 might have one too many commas, but the real import is that the board is committed only to “establish an ongoing process” rather than actually DO anything about fixing district boundaries and such. Notice how Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto slipped in the word “construction” in that statement. In the video clip below, listen to Julie Smith lay down the law about construction. Listen to Christina 3-2 Kishimoto flip her off  brush off her comments.

GPS Governing Board Goal Number 3 is going to cause fireworks … AGAIN. Listen to Board Member Julie Smith explain how GPS administrators have talked and talked and talked about a new campus for Gilbert Classical Academy, but nothing has come of it.

Here’s a phrase that should warn the public that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto has some nefarious plans she hasn’t unveiled yet: “school design.” You’re going to hear this again and again, but by the time you understand what Christina 3-2 Kishimoto means by that phrase, it will be too late to do anything about it (that’s by design). School design is part of the reforms that will be rammed down the throats of residents of the Town of Gilbert, financed by Gilbert taxpayers.

You need look no farther than Hartford, Connecticut, to see what is about to unfold. The Hartford Board gave new Superintendent Beth Narvaez a great evaluation, but they still bash Christina Kishimoto for the harm she did to that school district. We’re already seeing the same old stuff here in Gilbert: more district administrators, less communication with parents and an incredible level of arrogance in general.

“As a ‘change agent’ Beth shows a great deal of insight, innovation and creativity,” taking steps that have “energized staff and helped improve the relationship between central office and the schools,” the board said. It described her new plan to accelerate change at the neediest neighborhood schools, where educators have pleaded for support, as a “promising step to achieving better outcomes for all learners.” The board also pressed Narvaez to carry out “significant cultural and organizational changes.” That includes a mandate to deepen communications with the community “for real dialogue and collaboration,” and continuing to reorganize her central office “to be more responsive and more capable.”

Last year, Narvaez brought in a few new people to her top administrative team and shuffled others in response to an internal report in October that criticized the office as fragmented. “Beth came into an organization with little appetite or capacity for real community engagement, as well as a very top-down and opaque method of dealing with parents and community stakeholders,” stated the board, which often faulted the administration under former Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

On Tuesday night, the board spent 2 1/2 hours in a private meeting to discuss her job performance and later voted to tack on an extra year to her original three-year contract with annual 3 percent raises. Narvaez, whose salary is $257,500, said later that the board was being “really thoughtful.”

One other thing to note: new Hartford School District Superintendent Beth Narvaez is a Harvard-educated, self-described “equity warrior.” Wow – GPS needs salary equity now more than ever, since Christina Kishimoto has been at the helm for more than a year. Hey GPS employees: we kept telling you that raises were not a priority for these clowns. As far as equity for students, you need look no farther than the push for a new campus for Gilbert Classical Academy for 1% of GPS students.

Watch out whenever you hear the words *School Design!* Christina 3-2 Kishimoto wants to develop a national reputation, come hell or high water. Just do what you’re told, Governing Board. And pay up, taxpayers.

Big Fat Asterisk: Isn’t it cute that the 2015 State of the Schools speech is occurring in October just before the election on the override and bond issue? For example, the President gives the State of the Union addresses in January. Last year, the State of the Schools speech was delivered before the Town Council pretty close to the traditional beginning of the year (February 5, 2015, to be exact). But this is GPS – a hundred years of tradition unhampered by progress.

Keyboard: Westie, you know that’s not fair. Christina 3-2 Kishimoto invented the State of the Schools speech just last year. It’s not a GPS tradition yet. It’s still a gimmick.

Gilbert Public Schools: Taxes Will Increase, One Way or Another!

bigbucksGilbert Public Schools is asking local taxpayers to give them more, more and more money. Because:

It’s for the kids!
The legislature won’t give us all the money we want.
We already spent it all last year.
We know better than you know how to spend your own money.
If you don’t pony up an override and a bond, we’ll just raise your taxes anyway … like we’ve been doing for years.

It must be election season. People are going around wearing ugly cheap tee shirts and knocking on doors to tell Gilbert residents how to vote for the override and bond. Signs are going up and people are spending a lot of time and effort to try and force the Town of Gilbert and the City of Mesa to take down the signs that don’t support the GPS override. The True Believers denigrate anyone who doesn’t see the world  their way    agree with every word they say   volunteer to raise their own taxes. 

Gilbert Public Schools is spending a LOT of money on an all-mail election, figuring that more Yes voters will mail in ballots than would show up at a polling place. GPS also spent a lot of money to have a *consultant* tell them that it’s better to ask for both a bond and an override, since GPS hasn’t been able to get an override passed lately. This time, the Superintendent is going around to special meetings to explain the override and bond in a *neutral* way, but Christina Kishimoto is so arrogant that she spars with citizens who ask inconvenient questions about trivial (to her) matters of technology and taxes and teachers. How dare a parent challenge the omnivorous  omniscient  obnoxious Christina Kishimoto! On her own turf!!

All this self-congratulatory override and bond nonsense is intended to hide the fact that Gilbert taxpayers see increases in their taxes, no matter what. That’s because the Governing Board votes for big budgets, the County honchos look at that and then they raise taxes to match the GPS budget. Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamp Governing Board know that. They also know it’s not just about this year. The raise in taxes will be for 5 years for override (decreasing the next 2 years) and 20 years for the bond. Plus, there is no guarantee the Governing Board won’t raise rates AGAIN next year. All this while GPS loses students, to the tune of 1,000 or so in the past couple of years.

Here’s how the scam works: if the State of Arizona doesn’t give the school district as much money as the district wants, then the district has the option of raising the extra money by raising the primary tax rate. Part of the problem is that the district creates a budget with built in spending raises before the state creates its own budget. Of course, like any government entity, if they create a budget with a 20% increase, and the state only provides for a 10% increase, the district’s budget has been cut by 10%, and now it’s doom and gloom. In other words, the district creates their budget, finds out how much the state is willing or able to give, then tells the county that their budget number is higher this year. Then the county raises the tax rates to cover the district’s budget. It’s a purposefully complicated process.

Citizens helpfully reviewed their tax records for the years 2011-2015 to confirm the shell game that GPS plays with tax rates. The results:

2011 it was 2.4425/$100;
2012 it jumped to 4.0884/100;
2013 it increased to 4.3953/100;
2014 it increased to 5.2090/100;
2015 it increased to 5.2599/100.

The Pro-Override Forces are circulating information restricted to the *Secondary Property Tax Rates* to fleece the public  show that GPS has lost money and that taxes are going down. Sure they are. <dripping sarcasm> Westie’s birdies helpfully created a graph from statistics on file with the Maricopa County Department of Finance. Whatever tax money GPS lost from overrides winding down, they made up for it in primary tax rate increases, which didn’t require taxpayer approval. Take a look at how the GPS primary tax rates have skyrocketed compared to local school districts since 2011, and this is BEFORE a new override and bond are considered:


If that’s not enough, let’s look at the data from the Arizona Department of Education, which shows EXPENDITURES of $295,484,830 for 2014 compared to $302,559,666 for 2015. That’s a $7 MILLION increase at the same time that the Superintendent and the Governing Board are moaning and groaning because the budget was cut. Right….


Now that the legislature is considering a special session to give public schools more money, why would citizens vote additional taxes on themselves before they know how much more money the State of Arizona will be giving to public schools? The legislature can raise taxes. The school district governing boards have been raising taxes every year. So why not give the Good Old Boys more money to scatter among their friends before the legislature gives them more money to scatter among their friends. With vendors  friends like San Tan Ford and CORE Construction waiting in the wings with their hands out for contracts, how could GOBs resist? The old GOBs couldn’t resist. They also didn’t succeed in getting overrides passed.

One way or another, GPS is gonna get ya (and your money).*

Big Fat Asterisk: Homer Simpson said, “Everyone knows rock n’ roll attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact.” We know from researching on the Internet that “One Way or Another” was a 1978 hit song by Blondie. It took some close reading to unearth that fact. Cue Homer Simpson again: “Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!”

GPS Top Dogs Get Schooled on *Digital Ninja Training*

What possibly could go wrong when Gilbert Public Schools lets students upload selfies and anything else they want to the *official* GPS websites? “We’ll monitor it,” said the lady who wears sunglasses on top of her head … at night. We’re not going to speculate what all can go wrong, but we’ll helpfully report things here as they happen. And you know things will happen. It’s like the GPS Top Dogs think no one can see the train wreck that’s coming. Sheeeesh.

Hasn’t the *fabulous* GPS marketing machine ever heard of Snapchat, Vine and Instagram, to name a few potential sources of deep embarrassment for GPS when the kids are running the asylum managing the district web presence. Comedy Central has a Snapchat roadmap for GPS students … so you know Comedy Central fans will be drawn to inappropriate uploads for a school district, like a moth to a flame. It sure promises to be fun, though! Do you really believe GPS parents will approve of turning over the GPS websites to their kids? Surely you obtained written parental approval in advance, didn’t you, GPS? You know, photos with minors create some serious liabilities when they veer off into (ahem) inappropriateness. No no, GPS, parents are not going to thank you for this.

Seriously, a former congressman with an adult libido hasn’t been able figure out what kinds of digital images are inappropriate for sharing. Why would GPS expect a teenager with a teenage libido to think twice about whether it’s appropriate to share the most snicker-worthy images with friends? Or send worse images to not-friends? Sheeeesh. Older generations had problems with what students were doing behind the bleachers.  GPS is inviting something else entirely, and the smartest kids will make sure their pranks won’t be traceable. That’s enough of the dire warnings to people who don’t want to hear them …

Let’s look at some sterling work actually done by GPS students. The presentation below skewers the shoddy *technology Digital Ninja training* that’s been rammed down the throats offered to GPS students. First, don’t expect the kids to hold back; they’re going to tell it like it is. Second, these kids are ALWAYS being told to check their work; they’re not impressed with adults (some of whom are paid far too much for the shoddy work they do) who can’t be bothered to check their work before foisting it on the kids. Third, these kids have pride; they’ll call out shoddy work by adults who don’t take pride in their own work.  Scroll through the images below for a polite slap on the hands by a student who knows a lot more than the adults who were supposed to be teaching *Digital Ninja Training.* Thank you, unnamed student, for being so polite.



















Out of the mouths of babes…

GPS should be ashamed for adopting a logo lauding *Technology – Scholarship – Innovation* when their own work product is so shoddy. Students know better.  Now you see why Westie believes the Powers That Be are just asking for it when they try to foist their work onto the shoulders of students. Hey GPS, you need to hire the right people and fix the screwed up salary inequities among your pets inhabiting the White Castle. No one else is buying the garbage being passed off as *technology.* Sheeeeesh.

Happy Birthday – Westie Connect is Three Years Old!

As always, we are truly grateful to our audience for hanging in and hanging out with us.

We saw in the past that opportunistic adults were using Gilbert Public Schools as a cookie jar for themselves and their friends, and we’re seeing much the same now. We’ll have to keep that light shining on wrongdoing by a coterie of self-important educrats who are fleecing the GPS budget in ways that boggle the mind.

The new guys are doing the same old thing, but now it involves a THIRD OF A BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY and it increases no matter what voters say. Significantly, the corruption and mismanagement we have been exposing for three years were never intended to produce any benefit for students. Of course, students didn’t benefit. Neither did employees. Loyal employees are still hoping for unicorns and rainbows and pay equity. The board and the superintendent keep on pretending employees are important, but their spending priorities never put employees at the top of the list.

The secrecy and self serving behavior is more rampant now than ever. Losing the 2012 and 2013 overrides was a high price for GPS students to pay because citizens lost confidence in GPS leadership. Instead of healing, there is a pitched political battle showing how wide the chasm remains with the new breed of carpetbagger administration top dogs demanding more, more and more money for themselves first and their friends second.

Worse, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto is enshrining her skullduggery into GPS history.   Any time she is questioned about anything, she blames the Governing Board and recites *the process* that supposedly grants her immunity for things like multitudes of Open Meeting Law violations. An especially abhorrent example of profligate spending is two years of her self congratulatory *convocations* that cost taxpayers plenty for silly things like corsages. Sheeesh.

Let’s keep things happy today – here’s a start of school event that’s fabulous. You’ll enjoy it all the more if you click the Closed Caption icon – that puts the lyrics at the bottom of your screen. Thanks for everything, Birdies!


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