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Sutherland for Schools blog

We have replacement laptops

by Ann Sutherland on 04/16/14

Hank Johnson says we have laptops available to replace those that can no longer be fixed.  There is money both from the old bond program and the new one.

Number of CBAs/Benchmarks will be reduced to TWO

by Ann Sutherland on 04/14/14

Amazing.  The Legislature is actually listening to our pleas for less testing.  In addition to reducing the number of end-of-course test, they have restricted the number of benchmarks to TWO.  The explanation of our staff's implementation is given at the Data tab on this website.

Legal explanation is available here: 

See  The board received a similar communication from TASB


Dates for inservice on new math texts announced

by Ann Sutherland on 04/13/14

Here is Ms. Hernandez' response to a question posed here re inservice for math texts.  This should help your planning for summer.

Grade           Tentative dates                     Times
K              6/16-6/17                            8:30-3:30
1-2               6/11-6/13                            8:30-3:30
3                   6/16-6/18                            8:30-3:30
4                   6/23-6/25                            8:30-3:30
5                  6/30-7/2                               8:30-3:30
6                  6/12-13 and 6/16-17            9:00-4:00
7                  6/18-20 and 6/23                 9:00-4:00
8                  6/24-6/27                             9:00-4:00
Pre AP Math        8/4-8/7                         9:00-4:00

The locations will be determined.  

Notice to readers: I am holding some comments

by Ann Sutherland on 04/09/14

Readers, normally I post comments immediately.  However, I have received a couple of charges of lawbreaking in the last few days.  I am holding these comments pending a review of the legality.  I will publish them soon but I think we need to give staff a chance to respond when officials are accused of breaking the law.

Now's the time to tell TEA about testing

by Ann Sutherland on 04/08/14

TEA is distributing a questionnaire all school principals who are to distribute it to teachers.  It requires 30 minutes in one sitting to answer and must be completed by May 31.  If over 50% of teachers in a school respond, TEA will report results to the schools.  Here's the notice from Tx School Boards Assn.:

TEA to Distribute Survey on Teaching and Learning Conditions
TEA is releasing an upcoming statewide survey of teachers and administrators on school teaching and learning conditions. The Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning (TELL) Texas Survey – which officially opens on April 7 – will gather information on how teachers and other educators view the teaching and learning conditions at their schools.
The TELL Texas Survey is part of House Bill 2012 passed last year by the Texas Legislature, which requires the Agency to develop an online teaching and learning conditions survey to be administered statewide biennially to teachers, principals, counselors and other school-based professional staff. The anonymous survey will provide valuable data for schools and districts to use in improvement planning.
The survey will be open from April 7 to May 31. A separate survey of school superintendents will occur later this year.

Board meeting to include payroll audit report, other items

by Ann Sutherland on 04/07/14

Tuesday's meeting will not include the superintendent's evaluation. That is likely to occur next week. Although the deliberation will be in executive session (and will not be divulged, by law), any changes to his contract will be voted on.

Agenda backup material for April 8 meeting

by Ann Sutherland on 04/04/14

The agenda backup material for the April 8 meeting is available here: 

The file is 78 pages long and will take time to load.

I bet you don't know how rich this country is.

by Ann Sutherland on 04/01/14

Well, maybe you do, but here's the number:  the economy generates $49,800 for each man, woman and child in the country, according to the CIA Factbook.

If you are a family of two, and you are average, your income is just under $100,000.  If you are a family of four, it's just under $200,000.

The problem is not that we don't have lots of money.  It's that it's in the wrong pockets.

Please don't forget this when you hear how we can't afford medical care, schools, food, college scholarships, etc.  I'm thinking of printing bumper stickers that say, "are you average?  

Superintendent Evaluation meeting cancelled

by Ann Sutherland on 03/30/14

The March 31 meeting to complete the Superintendent's evaluation has been postponed according to a communication late in the week by President Moss.

Palazzolo wins $2.4 million in whistleblower case

by Ann Sutherland on 03/27/14

Joe Palazzolo, who was transferred a bunch of times after he reported wrongdoing and then was fired, has had his day in court and won enough money to compensate for his lost income through his remaining working years and his retirement as well.  

Here are two links to the FW weekly write-up:

FWISD trustees voted 6-3 to fire him after he reported fraud and other problems at Arlington Heights HS.*  I voted against firing Palazzolo because his personnel record was clean until the district went out to dig up reasons for firing him.  In addition, the many supportive letters sent by Arlington Heights HS teachers were intentionally withheld from the school board during our deliberations.  

Palazzolo's attorneys subpoenaed these teachers who came forward with their views, as did Sharon Herrera, who testified that she was required to change information on documents surrounding his work.

The attorneys also subpoenaed me and I told what I knew.  The district attorneys threatened me during my testimony (for which they were criticized by the judge) and at other times.  

I will be running for re-election next year.  I will need the support of those of you who live in District 6.

*This case has a lot of parts.  Without going into too much detail, I can say we actually fired Palazzolo twice because TEA made us reinstate him after we refused to follow their orders after the first hearing.  The second firing was 9-0 as all of us wanted the resolution of the case to proceed and none of us was willing to go through a second hearing.

No news today on Supt's evaluation

by Ann Sutherland on 03/26/14

The board will be meeting Monday, March 31 at 6 p.m. on the Superintendent's evaluation.  By law, the contents of his evaluation is confidential although any changes in his contract, including salary and benefits, must be voted on by the board.  Thanks to this teacher for prompting me to report:

Ann, we are all looking forward to hearing the results of the Superintendent's  
evaluation. I was surprised to learn from the FWST article this morning that he 
already has a contract through August 2016. Considering the fact that most      
teachers will not learn until May or June of this year whether they will have a 
contract for August 2014, why do we need to extend the Superintendent's         
contract any farther out at this time? Shouldn't we wait to get more results    
(i.e., give him a chance to improve, since he has so far failed to demonstrate  
why he is worth $340,000 plus benefits?)

Dr. Sorum explains requirements for programs of choice

by Ann Sutherland on 03/17/14

The following is in response to one of the questions appended to my post about CBAs. I think the Petroleum Engineering programm at Southwest HS also requires algebra I. The Paschal Scholars Program is a standard program of choice—there are no entry criteria—it is only by lottery. Of course to attain the Scholar Seal on the diploma, students need to successfully complete the Advanced Placement courses necessary for the Scholars Program. Typically this program is largely filled with Paschal neighborhood students—and of course, neighborhood students always get first priority. This year, after the neighborhood children were placed, there were 33 slots open for the scholars program for students outside the Paschal attendance zone. ". . .The only program that screens students out by grades and STAAR scores, as well as a number of subjective areas, is the Young Women’s Leadership Academy. TABS and Young Men’s admits students by lottery. TABS students have to have Algebra I before they start in the fall. If the student has not had this course during the 7th or 8th grade year, we have an acceleration program called A2I at which the child can take the Algebra I course."

Parents and Teachers weigh in on CBAs

by Ann Sutherland on 03/17/14

Comments still are coming in on the testing regimen we have, and I have received several phone calls about them over Spring Break. Thanks to those of you who comment; your words are helpful. They will be part of my comments during the superintendent's annual review next week. I am still visiting faculties in District 6.

Staff! Do not alter your time sheets!

by Ann Sutherland on 03/12/14

On March 3, the board auditor released a second assessment on our payroll procedures which indicates that staff are still altering their own time sheets.  This must stop!  Some office personnel are changing the entries for the time they work dozens of time over a six-month period.  

This is a form of fraud, which is a crime.  Our human capital management must put a stop to this practice immediately.

Problems with CBAs

by Ann Sutherland on 03/08/14

A parent posted below asking about the CBAs, saying her child is afraid of these tests.  Children should not be afraid of these tests, as they have no real meaning.  Some people think the purpose is to target teachers who don't teach the curriculum as dictated by FWISD. 

Major problems recently surfaced re the CBAs.  Here is Dr. Sorum's message to principals and teachers:

"Principals, I regret having to send this communication however I believe that it is very important that you and your tested content teachers understand that I am very upset about the quality control issues of the last couple of CBAs.  I take the work of the Teaching and Learning Division very seriously so I am also embarrassed by this. Additionally, I want to make certain that you and your teachers understand that I take these things very seriously and that we are developing a new process for quality control.  A component of this is that we will be asking for a teacher from each high school and middle school, each content area, and a good representation of elementary teachers, to participate in a committee that not only review the CBAs for accuracy but also review the CBAs for alignment with the state standards and the curriculum.

"In addition to decreasing the errors, this will also be a great professional development opportunity for your teachers that they can share with other teachers on your campuses.  A request for participants will be coming to you in this Friday’s principal packet.

"Please share this communication with your tested grade and appropriate content teachers.

"In the spirit of our Baldrige model of continuous improvement, every error is an opportunity for improvement. Thank you for bringing these issues to my attention.  I have always appreciated when you bring problems directly to me."

As a board member,  I oppose further work on this project which has never been shown to improve student performance--to the contrary, it is a likely cause of the decline in FWISD student performance since it was implemented.