Techies Have New Toys Now that AR Has Been Cut in GPS

The absurdity of Gilbert Public Schools having PTAs (PTSOs, PTROs, and other similar designations included) fund curriculum software that the district cut in order to add more administrative positions has really upset a huge segment of the Gilbert Community: parents whose pockets are being picked in ways large and small for their children’s public education. 

Some of the examples of pocket-picking include large lists of supplies parents were expected to bring to the classroom on Meet the Teacher night, just before school began. Some of those supply lists included 30-40 glue sticks per student in elementary classrooms. You see, parents are supposed to send in supplies for the whole class, not just their own child. The logic of the supply lists, though, can be nuts: what will individual teachers do if 20 sets of parents contribute 30 glue sticks each? One classroom needs 600 glue sticks? Won’t the glue sticks dry out before the kids get around to eating  using them? What is the connection between glue sticks and curriculum? Who is supervising these demands? You would expect the new Executive Directors of Elementary and Secondary Principals to bring some continuity and consistency into the GPS educational realm, but it doesn’t appear to be happening.

It has long been said that GPS superintendents have been more interested in running jobs-creation programs than in educating students, and the decision to cut the Accelerated Reader program fits right into that line of criticism.  The tone-deaf decision to cut AR and inflict other painful cuts on the classroom in order to hire more support staffers and administrators has become a rallying cry for those who believe all decisions must be made for the benefit of students instead of creating more, more and more administrative jobs and perks. We’d applaud loudly any decision to pay bus drivers more, though! Plenty of support staffers barely make a living wage; many can’t afford the basic health care benefits for themselves and their families, but GPS has a hundred years of  tradition unhampered by progress, and no one should expect any income equity from the Powers That Be. But we digress.

Returning to Tech Services and the Zero Based Budget cuts that eliminated Accelerated Reader from elementary campuses, we see that there are already new offerings from techies whose positions are now robustly funded. Does anyone remember that private Employee Bulletin Board that Tech Services created so employees could sell stuff to each other and advertise their private businesses and services? Yeah, the techies are at it again, using district resources for unfathomable purposes. The sad thing is that AR was cut to make this possible.

Technology Services is excited to announce a pilot program for Google Apps for Education! Google Apps for Education is a free service from Google that includes a full suite of cloud-hosted file sharing and productivity tools. The pilot program will allow us to evaluate Google Apps in order to determine its appropriateness for the district as a whole. See the pilot program summary for more information.

Even though there are so many demands on the time of teachers and support staff, techies will make those GPS employees play with their new techie toys, now that the GOB remnants got the Renaissance Learning software defunded. (Someone ought to remind techies that putting records “in the cloud” is highly problematic for school districts.) Techies are all excited about being pilots and such, and they’re inviting principals and teachers to play in their sandbox. Sad thing is, it doesn’t appear that anyone ever asked elementary classroom teachers about Renaissance Learning and Accelerated Reader before the ZBB committee defunded one of the most valuable classroom software packages in favor of playing with new techie toys. Since the Google training will be part of MLP “My Learning Plan” for GPS employees, Good Old Tooty Andrew Szczepaniak must have been *in* on the plan. BTW, Andrew’s toys, MLP and OASYS, got funded to the tune of $46,860.00 at the same time AR was cut.

Techies’ New Toys:

What it is:

What you get:

Requirements:

So parents and parent organizations are left to pick up the pieces of GPS core curriculum resources because the GOBs got away with the Same Old StuffBS again. You would think that someone (Kool-Aid Jack Keegan or “Perception is Reality” Jim Rice might have warned Dr. Christina Kishimoto that GPS fundraising, a subject we know is near and dear to Her Newness’s heart, was built around Accelerated Reader, at least on elementary campuses. Oh snap: those two $200,000.00 men didn’t hang around long enough to recognize that! Double snap: with the leadership void in the Curriculum Department, no one felt any responsibility anyway!

[More later on the “consultants” who are being paid big, BIG bucks for whatever it is they’re doing. The “Perception is Reality” dude is really cashing in on his *long-standing* ties to GPS. /sarcasm]

The end result: GPS has a multi-tier curriculum structure that means students are not supported on the same level across the district. Those schools designated Title 1 get a curriculum package that includes some of the Renaissance Learning software, but not all of it. Those schools that are NOT Title 1 don’t have the same curriculum package. If their parent organizations are rich enough, they can pay to restore Accelerated Reader for their students. If their parent organization can’t afford that expense, too bad. We have long decried income inequity for GPS employees. Now we’re seeing curriculum inequities for students. Who dreamed up this bit of stupidity? Oh yeah … ZBB. <sarcasm>


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