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.

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