Ms. Burnworth's blog is a bit confusing.
If I understand correctly, she wants the Jedi, of whom
Libia Gil would apparently be a prime example, to be in
charge of our schools.
Sadly, Libia Gil can't seem to get a job as a
superintendent since she was pushed out of CVESD in
She has apparently started her own business, Targeted
Leadership Consulting (see bottom of page).
2 opposing viewpoints
M. Burnworth: It's the hope of the
future [in our galaxy, at least].
San Diego Education Report by M. Larkins
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Lowell Billings wants to save face
At the Chula Vista Elementary School District Board
meeting last night, Superintendent Lowell Billings
talked about helping fired principal Tim Suanico "save
Billings wants to put a band-aid on a serious culture
Filipino principals routinely run into problems at
CVESD. I believe the reason lies in the conflict
between a traditional culture which requires a lot of
respect for authority figures, and the American culture,
which requires a lot of respect for employees--at least,
if they have a union, and the union bosses support
them. Assistant Superintendent Tom Cruz is either
unable or unwilling to help.
The problem surfaced for Tim Suanico last December,
when eleven teachers at Heritage Elementary School
in Otay Ranch wrote an anonymous letter to the
district complaining about Suanico.
That was when Billings should have acted.
But he didn't. Since Libia Gil came and established her
phony "site-based management" in CVESD, the district
has turned its back on problems at schools, preferring
to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly to
lawyers to cover up the illegal actions the district takes
when problems have spun out of control.
Maura Larkins: Site-based management
was part of the reason CVESD became
so dysfunctional from 1993 to 2010
Burner Blog by M. Burnworth
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Whole-System Change Does it Work?
Chula Vista Elementary School District was one of the
participants in a research study by Learning First
Alliance in 2003, who looked at how they approached
whole-system change. According to the case study,
"Decentralization and System Reform", by Wendy
Togneri and Lisa F. Lasarus, the school board
hired Dr. Libia (Libby) Gil as superintendent in
1993, hoping to stimulate change and promote better
performance through inspiration and support (Togneri
and Lasarus, 1993).
This change was based on the theory of decentralizaion,
and included decreasing the district level staff and
projecting a new sense of purpose. The Ball Foundation
was one of the consultants that they used to improve
their literacy achievement.
* Built a collective vision among stakeholders
* Developed a district-wide system of accountability to
insure that measurement tools to assess goal outcomes
* Set expectations to support principals as key to school-
* Began school-level reform.
The research study explains how they developed a
systemic redesign process to support principals,
teachers, and students. But I wanted to know how it is
going now? Do they evaluate their system? What
progress and benefits do the stakeholders see as a
result of the redesign?
I chatted with my friend and former colleague, Christyn
Pope, an Instructional Focus Specialist at Chula Vista
Learning Community Charter School (CVLCC), about
how the district changes benefit her learning community.
She discussed how the district currently re-evaluates
and continually improve the system. They work with
Targeted Leadership Consulting and The Ball
Foundation to ensure that the coaching and strategic
planning reflect the districts goals and evidenced-based
instructional practices. Chula Vista Elementary School
District currently employs a Community of Practice
Cohort which ensures that communication bewteen the
schools and the district is reciprocol and that
collaboration and support is valued.
Leadership teams within schools include the principal,
administrative leads, and grade level representatives.
These teams have open lines of communication. The
teams are organized into school leadership teams, which
meet in cohorts monthly. The cohorts meet to foster
communication through professional development,
standards based planning, networking, and developing
action plans for schools. These cohorts allow for
continual evaluation of their system and foster motivation.
Christyn seems satisfied with the way the district works
now. As a former San Diego City Schools administrator,
who worked under the top down iron-fisted redesign in
early 2000, she appreciates the consistency of language
and goals that CVESD has and the management system
allows cross-level communication. She said that many of
the stakeholders, teachers, students, parents, principals,
board members, are encouraged and value the change
in the schools.
If the current SDUSD were to develop a district-wide
change policy, they should look to their neighbors,
CVESD, for inspiration.
Posted by mburnworth...
Profile of the author
* Industry: Education
* Location: La Mesa : CA : United States
Please describe how you could take the peel off an apple all in
I would start with a sharp knife at the top of the apple and carfully
peel it off in one piece. I've actually done this!
[Maura Larkins' note: you didn't tell HOW you'd do it. Would you
cut a strip around the apple, moving downward in a spiral? I'm
afraid that you also failed to describe the whole Libia Gil fiasco
* Fishing * snowboarding
* hanging out at the beach * reading
* Star Wars * Pirates of the Caribbean
* Harry Potter * The Wedding Singer
* rock * ska * 91x
* Harry Potter & the Inkheart series..
Monday, June 15, 2009
A New Hope
The educational bureaucracy is like The Republic and I,
and a few of my Jedi comrades, try to bring technological
balance to the educational Force. We, Jedi strive for
what we know is right, engaging students and promoting
creativity and learning, as the video “A Vision of K – 12
Students Today” communicates. Educational Jedi are
guardians of peace, justice, and using “engaging
technologies in collaborative inquiry-based learning
environments” (Nesbitt, 2007). There are colonies in far
reaching systems that are effective. Look what
guardians of quality education are doing in Kansas
There, teachers and administrators have the funding
and the Republic behind them. They teach the
Padawans (technological Jedi in training) and support
them along the way.
However, many of us live in the realms of Republics
where the empirical bureaucracy resists change. What
ever the reasons, lack of funding, lack of knowledge,
lack of motivation, change still needs to happen. If 76%
of teachers have never used a Wiki (Nesbitt, 2007) how
can us Jedi encourage, support, and inform our
Padawans. Society has changed from appreciating
sameness (clones) to learning about and valuing
differences. Our educational system needs A New Hope.
Jedi are not in control of systems, they support and
protect them. Therefore, if technological Jedi are
passionate about their tools, sites, and powers, they will
need to take Younglings and Padawans under their wing
to train and support them. Adding more Jedi to the Force.
Posted by mburnworth at 10:33 PM
CVESD board Nov. 2008
(Friends of the Jedi????)
("Learning First" Alliance?)
CVESD Reporter by M. Larkins
Monday, April 14, 2008
It was obvious all along that Lowell
Billings didn't believe in site-based
Chula Vista Elementary School District's Superintendent
Lowell Billings apparently watched closely and learned
from his predecessor Libia Gil, who promoted a system
she called "site-based management." Billings continues
to promote the system.
But the system as implemented at CVESD always
involved top-down decisionmaking, never democracy at
the school site.
It also involved laziness and neglect. So things would
often get out of hand at various schools, and then the
district office would swoop in and fire people, or, if they
were political allies, bring them back to the district office
for their own protection.
But now Lowell has a new problem. The school that is
trying to make its own decisions is a charter school.
They don't seem to think that principal Erik Latoni
should make all the decisions.
Once again, Lowell wants to swoop in and take control.
He is threatening to to terminate the charter of Feaster
Elementary School because the people who run the
school actually work at the school. Instead of "site-based
decisionmaking," this is now being called "a conflict of
interest" by Mr. Billings.
It's not ideas that matter at CVESD, it's words. And the
meaning of the words changes whenever the people in
charge feel it's necessary.
It's probably worthwhile to note that CVESD recently
rehired Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz.
Apparently the board was impressed with Shinoff's work
at MiraCosta College. I notice a striking similarity in the
arguments used to attack Feaster Elementary and the
arguments used to justify the actions of the majority-bloc
of trustees at MiraCosta.
Posted by Maura Larkins at 9:08 AM
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
CVESD has two bullying programs: the one they talk
about, and the one they don't
Chula Vista Elementary School District boasts about its
program that solves students conflicts by talking them
CVESD has a different program for adults. It involves
strict silence. The target of the bully isn't told about
secret attacks. She never hears the allegations. No one
ever asks for her side of the story. And she is usually
one of the best and brightest teachers in the district. At
the same time, incompetent and dishonest teachers
remain in their positions.
Top district administrators and the school board don't
ask what the truth of the matter is. They simply dismiss
the victim of the attack from employment. And then their
lawyers spend tax dollars to defend the indefensible,
instead of paying those tax dollars to the people who
should get them: employees and students.
Today is the final day of arguments in San Diego
Superior Court in the Danielle Cozaihr case, a case that
fits the mold perfectly. Superintendent Lowell Billings
testified yesterday, making clear that he makes no
personnel decisions himself, and then turning around
and saying that he is responsible for the decisions. He
sounded like an uninvolved figurehead who thinks he's
among the highest paid public employees in the county
simply because he goes around being seen (apparently
without seeing anything, or at least not remembering
what he sees.)
Five years ago, it seemed that Superintendent Libia Gil
and Asst. Superintendent Richard Werlin were the
problem. They were pushed out, and replaced with new
Now it's clear that Lowell Billings and Tom Cruz, their
replacements, are equally incompetent and
How can this be? CVESD has a board of trustees
consisting of five clones of George W. Bush: they all try
to stay as ignorant as possible, and they think they are
so morally superior that no matter what they do, God will
This may be something that the "Christian" board
members haven't thought of, or haven't cared about:
they have been given very specific instuctions: "Thou
shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." This
is an admonition that Pamela Smith, Cheryl Cox/David
Bejarano, Bertha Lopez, Pat Judd, and Larry
Cunningham disobey everytime they pay their lawyers to
perpetrate a fraud on the court.
Targeted Leadership Consulting
Bonnie McGrath [a principal at CVESD when Libby Gil was
Laserik (Las) Saunders
Sonja Brookins Santelises, Ed.D
J. Chris Coxon
Thomas W. Payzant
Director of Publications & Outreach
Director of Business Development
Brand Manager / Graphic Artist
The Third Mile Group
Organizational Services, Inc.
January 13, 2011
'An Insidious Twist' on Budget Cuts
Posted on January 13, 2011
by Emily Alpert
The teachers union president calls the new budgeting in
San Diego Unified, which allows schools more power over
painful budget decisions, "a particularly insidious twist."
The district is "using the budget to inspire panic and
division among educators and parents," Bill Freeman said.
In a letter last week to teachers, he wrote:
Under the democratic-sounding "site-based budgeting
process," educators and parents are being directed by the
District to choose which jobs and programs to cut, placing
[union] members in the position of determining which of our
brothers and sisters to effectively toss out into the street.
Freeman later said teachers shouldn't be put in the
position of deciding which jobs to cut.
"They don't see the bigger picture of the school
oftentimes," he said. But he didn't say that the central
offices should be deciding everything. School
administrators should come up with the cuts and then give
them to school committees of employees and parents to
review, Freeman said...
comment by obmomm:
I come from a pro-union background and family. I
understand the value of unions. My issue is not with the
union, it's with the leadership. I'm sorry to see Mr. Freeman
wanting to have his cake AND eat it too. If these were flush
times he certainly wouldn't want the administrators making
the decisions. I have issues with the "passing the buck"
move admin and the board have pulled too, but this is the
opportunity for the union to speak about supporting each
other as members and making tough decisions on a
bargaining basis, not to spew the familiar "this isn't fair"
whining we've come to expect from these leaders. I feel like
the leadership of this union does what makes them look
good among union leadership, not what's good for the
community and the kids, and the membership at large. How
many people know that there is only 10% voter
participation for union leadership? Is the union working to
remedy this lack of involvement by membership? I've made
it a side project to question teachers about their desires in
this budget crunch. By far the answers have been to
reopen bargaining and share the burden. When was the
last time the union surveyed it's members and when was
the last time they listened to the people doing the work at
the sites? Come back to the table and spare your
members having to make these hideous decisions!
|San Diego Education Report
Site-Based Teams Customize Chula
The School Administrator
Latino Leadership and Learning|
by JOHN M. NELSON III
Chula Vista Elementary School District, like many districts
across the country, is dealing with achievement gaps in
each of our 45 schools. English language learners
continue to lag behind their peers, especially in
Instead of fearing the accountability measures associated
with No Child Left Behind, the school district has embraced
the federal law for establishing a sense of urgency at all
levels in the organization. We have developed a culture of
continuous improvement, resulting in significant gains in
achievement for English learners and all other students
over the past five years.
Students' learning results began to change when we
focused on sustained, content-specific staff development.
Instead of pursuing a more conventional approach (such
as focusing on mathematics, science or history
instruction), we focused on English language development
for all students during this five-year period, not just those
designated through state measures.
Using a model of instruction known as Gradual Release of
Responsibility, we concentrated our staff training on
improving the academic language necessary for students
learning English to achieve proficiency. To do this, Chula
Vista has been building the capacity of teachers and
administrators through school-based teams, called
instructional leadership teams that customize their
professional learning to meet the needs of their specific
school sites' content.
In collaboration with Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, the
San Diego State University professors who devised the
Gradual Release of Responsibility, our district has focused
on improving the quality of instruction for all students.
Instruction by highly qualified teachers within the general
education classroom is the basis for Tier 1 in response to
intervention. Fisher and Frey's model consists of four
phases of learning:
• Focus lessons establish purpose, model, demonstrate
and think aloud to expose the cognitive moves of the
expert, the teacher.
• Guided instruction supports learning, primarily in small
groups, through the strategic use of questions, prompts
• Collaborative learning promotes productive group work,
with students interacting with peers to clarify their
• Independent learning finds opportunities inside and
outside the classroom for review, extension and
This instructional framework became our district's outline
for all content-specific professional development. The
model's linchpin was the collaborative learning phase of
instruction, where students work as partners to discuss,
interact and produce.
Implementing the Gradual Release of Responsibility in
nearly 1,400 classrooms spread across 45 schools
represented a major challenge. The schools (six of them
charters) covered a range of diversity. A one-size-fits-all
approach would not be successful. However, we had a
significant tool at our disposal, site-level instructional
Chula Vista has spent the past 10 years establishing
instructional leadership teams at every site. Their primary
role is to lead each school's improvements in teaching and
learning. Each team decides the school's instructional
program and leads and monitors its implementation. The
leadership teams consist of teachers (usually one per
grade level) and the principal. The teams meet regularly to
discuss instruction and review teacher assignments and
analyses of student work to determine schoolwide needs.
In addition, the site-based teams monitor full
implementation of promising practices, planning and
adjusting professional learning as needed. Their most
important responsibility is developing a plan to build the
capacity of all staff. They collect, organize and display
schoolwide data on student performance and monitor the
effectiveness of current allocation of resources and make
Using this structure, each instructional leadership team
participates in five full-day professional development
sessions each year. The first half of each session focuses
on a status check among school teams and expands their
knowledge base concerning the instructional model. The
second half of each session focuses on capacity building.
Teams construct plans for professional development they
will lead, and work with individual teachers who can benefit
from additional coaching and mentoring.
The instructional team decides how to customize training
for the school's staff. The team determines how it will
deliver the relevant information over a nine-week cycle.
The cycles include presentations of new information,
implementation with positive feedback from coaches and
site administrators and peer observations.
Over the last several years, the instructional leadership
team has evolved from being a conduit for professional
learning into a creator. For example, during several recent
professional development sessions, these teams created a
bank of language frames for each grade level and content
area to support the development of English learners.
Similarly, teams have created content and language
objectives derived from state standards for each discipline
and grade level. Establishing what will be learned and how
students will use it is critical for students who are learning
In addition, the site-based teams conduct instructional
walk-throughs at different sites as well as at their own
These efforts have resulted in breakthrough results across
the system. In 1999, only four schools met their state
performance targets; last year, 40 of 45 schools had done
so, and only two schools remain on California's program
improvement status. While the results are impressive, we
will continue until we eliminate the achievement gap in total.
John Nelson is assistant superintendent for instructional
services and support in the Chula Vista Elementary School
District in Chula Vista, Calif. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org