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Equity and Excellence Review Gets State Funding Approval

Windsor Public Schools received approval to use state aid to fund Dr. Marlon James' controversial equity and excellence review at Windsor High School.

Windsor Public Schools have gotten a fiscal thumbs up from the state department of education, receiving approval to use a portion of a state grant to fund an equity and excellence review at Windsor High School.

The grant, called an Alliance Grant, was awarded to Windsor in September — an annual grant worth $306,985 for three years — to help the school district improve performance.

Identifying the equity and excellence review to be conducted by Loyola University-Chicago's Dr. Marlon James as part of the district's efforts to improve district performance, Villar, upon receiving orders to contract James, applied for the state to accept an amendment to the planned use of Windsor's alliance grant funds.

According to Villar, the approval received from the state ensures all costs associated with the equity and excellence review will be covered by state aid.

"I am pleased that the State Department of Education has elected to support this initiative that represents a significant opportunity for the Windsor Public Schools,” said Villar. “The financial support provided by the State will allow the District to move forward with important reform efforts, while reassuring local taxpayers that they are not shouldering an additional burden during difficult economic times.”

James' equity and excellence review will cost just over $100,000 per year for the next three years, accouting for about one-third of the alliance grant funds.

Villar said he was particularly pleased with the approval of the use of alliance grant funds because "the state department seemed to udnerstand how the (equity and excellence review) is aligned with district improvement efforts."

Additionally, Villar expressed pleasure with the state department's ability to view cultural education as a critical part of academic improvement.

Michaela I. Fissel December 18, 2012 at 09:27 PM
You mean after the fact that the BOE members lied to the public, withheld information, and failed to go through proper bidding procedures - nice. Even more interesting is the fact that Doreen Richardson and Superintent Villar had an attorney get up at the Windsor Ethics Review and state that no one has purview to hold the BOE accountable.
common sense December 18, 2012 at 11:07 PM
and when the people who support this review have no more valid arguments to make to back up their opinions, they go right to race. "If you don't support this review then your a racist". "If you don't support Dr. James, then your a racist". "If your against Doreen Richardson then your a racist". REALLY PEOPLE!!!!! This is what it has come to i guess.... this is SAD!! This process has done more to divide this town than anything I can ever remember. Do I support closing the achievement gap? Certainly. Do I agree with the way that the Board of Education went about hiring Dr. Marlon James? Not one bit!!!! Does that make me a racist?? I should never have to even answer that!!
Jan Porri December 19, 2012 at 12:54 AM
"The grant, called an Alliance Grant, was awarded to Windsor in September — an annual grant worth $306,985 for three years — to help the school district improve performance." So....this $$ is for helping the district improve performance....so how does paying someone $300K improve the district? Is he then going to tell Windsor what they need to do, and then they will use the left over $6,985 to get the job done?? Why is it the powers that be always need a 'study' or a 'commission', or a 'review' to do anything - what happened to your own common sense and intelligence??
Mary McGoldrick December 19, 2012 at 02:31 AM
One question I would like answered is why it is going to take three years to complete this study. That seems like an excessive amount of time, and most of the students who are currently in high school will have graduated, so how is this going to help them? Could this not be done in a more timely manner?
tchjjal December 19, 2012 at 02:52 AM
From the meeting video I saw of his "pitch" to the school board, it was not clear what his plan exactly was...It was clear though that there was no evidence or a past history of "whatever" his methods were, that there was any kind of success. I personally would have been offended if I was a teacher and some man came in and told me I was "biased" toward the students in a negative way. They put their hearts into all the kids but they are forever being criticized.
Catherine & Dennis December 19, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Jan-I have been asking what happened to common sense for years. Apparently the GAP has been around for a looooooong time LOL. With the money we pay for school, the superintendent etc., and they do not know how to teach. This Town is a joke. I was already in the process of sketching out a comedy to try to sell to the networks based on the pathetic Dollar Tree public hearings -just more to add to it.
common sense December 20, 2012 at 01:39 PM
unfortunately, the feeling of Dr. James supporters is that if you don't support him, it is because he is black, which is foolish in so many ways. Ms. Richardson stated that if her detractors had any other ideas to come forward, but she goes ahead and hears 1 proposal from 1 person and makes up her mind as opposed to having a bidding process, where multiple proposals could be made by others. This whole process is a joke. Ms. Richardson is foolish, and her supporters are becoming blinded by racial overtures, dividing this town like nothing before.
Windsor School Graduate December 20, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I agree. Unfortunately this is what is happening across our country. Everyone who comes to this town wants the things they couldn't get where they came from, if they do infact live here. The truly sad componet to all of this is nobody will listen "it's my way or the highway"! That was evidenced by Mr. Panos and Ms. Santos trying to explain their points of view and further, Ms. Fissel giving more information. It is what it is - a race issue. I've lived here for a very long time and never saw this type of behavior by the town's leadership and boards. Only the voters can change that.
Michaela I. Fissel December 20, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I cannot wait to publish my next Blog on Policies, Procedures, and Bylaws related to the Equity and Excellence Review. I just watched the September 12, 2012 presentation by Dr. Marlon James and the subsequent Q&A period that followed. Briefly, there was no data presented that supports the effectiveness of interventions informed by Dr. James' research. Even when BOE member Mr. Williams inquired about evidence, the question was not answered using measurable outcomes. In the end, Doreen Richardson, presented a passionate speech that cited the multiple points during her involvement with the community that she has been in contact with Dr. James, and how Superintendent Dr. Feser failed our community during her time with the Windsor School System. Doreen then closed her embellished speech with...
Michaela I. Fissel December 20, 2012 at 08:39 PM
"(@ 3:13:38) Demonstrate with your vote this afternoon, that you truly believe that our teachers want what is best for our children, and that they deserve the tools to do that. Take a leap, set aside your own fears for the moment, yes we don't have all the information, we don't have a crystal ball. Yes, we can't make wonderful predictions about how sweeping the change is going to be, but we know what we have, and we know how we got here. Take a leap, believe in our system, believe in our staff, and believe in our children. I'm sure you all want to hold a question right now." This was followed by Darleen Klase immediately responding with, “The motion was to authorize the Superintendent to execute an agreement between Dr. Marlon James and Loyola University.” OK, so the BOE took this vote at 10:15PM after a three hour presentation/Q&A on this issue with no supplemental information. Why didn’t they just wait until the next meeting to take a vote? Why did Doreen Richardson rush everyone into making a hasty decision? Why didn’t they wait until everyone had time to reflect on the presentation, gather additional information from Dr. Marlon James to achieve a sound decision making process, and then make a thoughtful and informed decision?
Michaela I. Fissel December 20, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Can we please all take a moment to consider that this is an example of individuals making uninformed decisions? At this point in the process, either no one realized, or individuals failed to state for the record, that by voting to approve this “agreement”, that they were waiving their right to a bidding procedure. I would say that this falls squarely on the Superintendent who is bound by Administrative Regulation 3100, as stated, “The foregoing bidding procedure may be waived on a case by case basis upon recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools or his or her designee and approval of the Windsor Board of Education by majority vote if deemed to be in the best interest of the Windsor Board of Education.” So he just didn’t remember because it was too late, or did he already know the plan and kept quite so that policy could be circumvented? This is a legitimate question and has yet to be answered.
Windsor School Graduate December 21, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Michaela, you are a very talented and intelligent young lady. Everything you have stated has happened and I wouldn't hold my breathe on any answer regarding your question. I believe the latter of your assumption would probably be the correct answer. As I have watched, the minute anyone rebutts anything they say - it goes in one ear and out the other. They know exactly what they are doing whether the people agree or not. I can't wait for your next blog, The sad thing is it won't change anything.
George Slate December 21, 2012 at 04:06 PM
For Windsor School Graduate - It is possible that one of Michaela's upcoming posts could change things, even dramatically. With the Marlon James Loyola University (MJLU) effort now coming under the Alliance Grant (AG), there are now strings and handcuffs that will accompany the MJLU contract and research study. Many in our Town have wondered if the MJLU work was being done so Marlon James could fulfill his need to publish in the publish or perish world of academia. The 8th assurance in Appendix C of the AG (page 57 of the AG) states: "The Connecticut State Department of Education reserves the exclusive right to use and grant the right to use and/or publish any part or parts of any summary, abstract, reports, publications, records and materials resulting from this project and this grant;" Will MJLU be willing to abide by this condition?
Windsor School Graduate December 21, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Mr. Slate, I truly appreciate your reply. I've watched you speak at these meetings several times and admire you and Michaela for speaking up. Unfortunately, I've lost all hope when it comes to our government - be it federal, state or municipal. I went to all of the Windsor schools. They were not controlled by unions or the state. I had a very good education afforded me by the taxpayers and worked a very long time. I too have spent my hard earned dollars for the education provided to the towns children. I do not like the attitudes of the people expecting everyone to bow down to them because of this problem. When I was in school we had many ethnic groups and people of color. We were all treated the same - and that is the difference. I show no preference to anyone. I'm just tired of listening to these people complain about everything. We have some of the best schools, excellent teachers and problem children. That's the difference, and that is what is going on.
George Slate December 21, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Just to repeat one thing that I said at the December 18 BOE meeting -- In talking to an attorney at the CT Department of Education after the Alliance Grant (AG) amendment was filed, it appears that the State of CT competitive bidding process is NOT attached to the AG, as amended. Some other CT contract processes are attached to the AG, as amended. I'll write some about the BOE competitive bidding process later.
Malvi Lennon December 21, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Over the past four years, the "race" issue has become the weapon that some run towards when a white person questions the ideas or the credentials of a black person. This is especially true if the questions have merit. Frankly, I find that the race thing in and itself is racist. Because I believe that racism is a sign of ignorance, I tend to think the people employing the race-baiting tactic are just plain stupid and do not deserve to be engaged by people looking for meaningful discourse.
George Slate December 22, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Thank you for your kind words. I want to share something that was triggered in my mind when reading your words "excellent teachers." When the BOE went into executive session at one its recent meetings, I spoke to BOE member Paul Panos for a while (more on this conversation in a later Patch comment). He cannot attend executive sessions regarding union compensation contracts since he has family members who work in the Windsor Public Schools (WPS). One of his comments was that he would not trade Windsor's teachers for Simsbury's teachers. He understands that Simsbury's test results are higher than Windsor's, and was not saying anything bad about Simsbury's teachers. He was saying that Windsor's teachers accomplish a great deal given the multicultural and broader socioeconomic make up of the WPS student population. He believes that Windsor's teachers could at least duplicate Simsbury's test results if they were teaching Simsbury's students, but Simsbury's teachers would be hard pressed to at least duplicate Windsors test results if they were teaching Windsor's students.
Windsor School Graduate December 22, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Mr. Slate when I was a younger child my parents were not wealthy but they worked hard and saved everything. I grew up with that principle taught by my parents. If the people in this town think they have it so terribly bad, I suggest they save their $$ and go across country. Our native americans live on reservations - not because they like it there, but because "our government" took everything from them and put them there. Those people WISH they had what is here in town. Shoot!! go to Appalachia. These people are poor and just left behind. So, I suggest people start appreciating and be thankful for what they DO have. Teach your children well and love them. I've learned so much more by traveling and learning from people who have so much less. Each time I came home I was so grateful to my folks and the way I was brought up - not to mention the town I grew up in.

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