Sunday, December 28, 2008

Vietnam school officials control teachers with cruder methods and more demands than US school leaders

Vietnam whistle-blower suffers for war on graft
Dec 27, 2008
HANOI, Vietnam

The thugs came after dark, as Do Viet Khoa and his family were getting ready for bed.

He says they punched him, kicked him, stole his camera and terrified his wife and children.

Khoa, a high school math and geography teacher, thinks the message was clear: Stop blowing the whistle on school corruption - or else.

For several years, Khoa has been fighting the petty bribery and cheating that plagues schools across Vietnam, where poorly paid teachers and administrators squeeze money out of even poorer parents.

Vietnam's leaders approved a sweeping anti-corruption law in 2005, but implementation is uneven. The country still ranks poorly on global corruption surveys, and for ordinary Vietnamese, who treasure education, school corruption is perhaps the most infuriating of all.

Few dare to fight it, for fear of retaliation.

A slight, ordinary-looking man from a farming village, 40-year-old Khoa made a dramatic entrance onto the national scene two years ago. He videotaped students cheating on their high school graduation exams while their teachers watched and did nothing. State-owned TV stations played the tape repeatedly.

With TV cameras in tow, Vietnam's education minister went to Khoa's house to hand him a certificate praising his courage. Khoa appeared on Vietnam's version of the Larry King show. The principal of the Van Tao High School, where Khoa has taught since 2000, was transferred.

But back in his farming village of Van Hoa, about 15 miles outside Hanoi, Khoa got anything but a hero's welcome.

Teachers and administrators resented the unflattering spotlight. Even among parents and students, who stood to gain most from Khoa's efforts, few came to his defense.

All the parents wanted was to get their children through school and into jobs, even if they had to cheat to pass their exams, Khoa said.

"The entire community has shunned me," Khoa said. "They harass me on the phone, they send me letters. They say I put my thirst for fame ahead of their children's welfare. Some of them even threatened to kill me."

Thinh Van Nam, 27, a teacher at the school, thinks Khoa has brought his problems on himself.

"Khoa says we isolated him, but it is not true," Nam said. "When someone feels ostracized by his peers, he needs to ask himself why."

Matters escalated last month, when the four men came to Khoa's house - two of them guards at his school, according to news reports. Police are still investigating.

Khoa has also run afoul of the new principal, Le Xuan Trung, after sending a letter to national and local officials alleging that Trung imposed various unfair fees to enrich school staff at parents' expense.

One of Khoa's biggest complaints is the "extra classes" implemented at his school and others across the country, in which regular school teachers tutor students for money.

"If they don't go, the teachers give them bad grades," said Khoa.

A teacher can triple a salary by packing students into the sessions. These cost parents about $6 a week - nearly as much as they earn farming rice.

Principal Trung did not respond to an interview request. But he was quoted in the People's Police newspaper as saying enrollment in the classes is voluntary.

Trung reportedly said Khoa "did not always concentrate on his teaching and follow the school regulations," and "he used his camera and recorder too much, so people did not feel comfortable talking to him."

One man defending the teacher is Vu Van Thuc, whose son goes to the school. "He is raising his voice against these absurd requirements imposed by the school," he said.

"He is really brave," said Giang Xuan Dung, a math teacher. "I admire him for his courage and patience."

Other schools have offered to hire Khoa.

"I thought we should support him," said Van Nhu Cuong, a Hanoi headmaster who tried to hire him. "We really need people who dare to speak out."

Khoa refused because the school is too far from his home.

His wife, Nguyen Thi Nga, worries about her husband's crusade.

"This has caused us a lot of stress," she said. "I wish everyone would join the fight against corruption so that we wouldn't be the odd ones out."

No matter what happens, Khoa said, he won't stop fighting to uphold the ideals of honesty and integrity promoted by the communist revolutionaries who freed Vietnam from colonial rule.

"Many teachers are soiling the image of education," he said. "Corruption is a betrayal of communist ideology and of the country."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Patrick Judd loses, Bertha Lopez wins in CVESD

Russell Coronado takes Judd's seat in Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Maura Larkins finally provides us with a summary of her case against CVESD

Here's a summary written by Maura Larkins about her case against Chula Vista Elementary School District:

Here's a summary of what happened in my case:

Many people have told me that my case is so complicated that they simply don't understand it. They have asked for a summary, and here it is.

Maura Larkins v. CVESD was the result of an odd confluence of circumstances, and at the same time it was a typical event in the system that prevails at many schools across the United States. This system values politics and personal loyalty among adults over the duty to educate and protect children.


I had been teaching at Chula Vista Elementary
School District
for 27 years when the problem began.
It started with a family problem: I was
co-administrator of my father's estate,
and one of my brothers was secretly
unhappy about it. He and his ex-wife decided
to use the police to remove me from my position.


I was removed from my classroom
on February 12, 2001 due to a false police report
(see "A False Police Report" on this page)
made by my mentally-ill and substance-abusing
ex-sister-in-law. However, the district didn't
want to admit this, since using the
illegally-obtained police report
(no charges were filed against me)
was a misdemeanor.


There is no chance that the district
would have been charged with a crime
for its silly little misdemeanor
(Labor Code section 432.7), but the district
decided it would rather spend $100,000s
of tax dollars to pay its lawyers to cover up the mistake
than to simply admit it made a mistake.


The reason given by the district for my removal was that
two teachers had called assistant superintendent Richard Werlin
at home on a Saturday evening and said they believed
I might be about to kill them.
Oddly, the district
created NO DOCUMENT at this time to explain
the reason I was removed from my classroom,
nor did it investigate the alarming report.


Within a month, the district changed its story,
saying that only one teacher, Jo Ellen Hamilton,
had called Richard Werlin about me. Hamilton later
testified under oath that she had simply called
Werlin at his invitation to discuss a planned meeting.


On April 3, 2001 I sent a
fax to the district. The next day I was abruptly
asked to return to work, and at the
same time the district belatedly
prepared a document to explain why
I had been removed from my classroom
in the first place. The document
contained a new, completely false
accusation by Richard Werlin and
never mentioned the teacher reports.


I went back to teach in April 2001 because
it seemed clear that my accusers had
been deemed unreliable (either crazy
or dishonest or some combination of the two),
and I assumed that the fabricated excuse in
Richard Werlin's document , was merely
an effort by an embarrassed human resources director
to cover up his mistake.

But I was wrong. It was more than a cover-up;
it was, in fact, a set-up.


A week after returning, Linda Watson, one of the
who had accused me earlier,
and a new accuser who made a written report,
came forward with bizarre allegations.


I did not know it at the time, but the teachers
union, Chula Vista Educators, was
working with my accuser Linda Watson. CVE President
Gina Boyd had worked at my school until 1995, and
although she did not share the motivations
of her friends
at Castle Park Elementary,
she was running for reelection and felt she
needed to keep them happy in order to win.
This effort was supported by California Teachers
Association Board of Directors member Jim Groth.

Richard Werlin, with the approval of the cabinet
(including Libia Gil and Lowell Billings),
had triggered an all-out hysteria at my school.
Two staff members told me that many teachers were afraid
that I was "going to come to school and shoot everybody.”


Without making any effort to
establish that a Columbine-type
event was not in the offing, the
district demanded that I come back
to work in September of 2001. This
time I refused.

My lawyer demanded an investigation
to clear my name and cool down the crucible
that Castle Park Elementary had become, but
the district refused. It was clear that anyone
could make any accusation against me, and it
would be believed and acted on: I was not
safe at work.


Attorney Mark Bresee, who was then working with
Parham & Rajcic and was recently chosen as chief counsel
for Terry Grier at SDUSD, had been giving legal advice
to CVESD up to this point.

When I filed a tort claim on October 4, 2001, attorney Diane Crosier and claims adjuster Rodger Hartnett of San Diego County Office of Education Joint Powers Authority, along with their favorite attorney, Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, became involved.


I filed 3 grievances on November 13, 2001. The very next day the
district threatened me with dismissal. This was a violation of
the Elementary Education Relations Act (EERA) and other laws.

The district took no action on its
threats, however, until I filed a
lawsuit on March 12, 2002. On May
7, 2002 Patrick Judd, Cheryl Cox,
Pamela Smith, Bertha Lopez and
Larry Cunningham voted to dismiss
me, thus violating California Labor
Code section 1102.5 which prohibits
retaliation against employees for
reporting wrongdoing. This was also
a violation of the constitutional right
to petition for redress of grievances.


My dismissal was upheld by the
Office of Administrative Hearings.
Judge H. James Ahler conducted
a hearing that was almost as comical
as it was illegal. At one point
Judge Ahler jumped up and
ordered the panelists to join him in a
side room, where he told them to
disregard my testimony. I heard his
words because I was sitting on the
witness stand a few feet from him.
The court reporter and all the rest of us
sat at attention during the ten
minutes the panel was in the little
room, but the judge's words were
not included in the transcript
because the reporter couldn't hear

The school district spent many tax
dollars, and the California Teachers
Association spent plenty of teachers'
dues, to get my lawsuit thrown out.
Perjury by employees was also
required, but the effort seemed to pay off
for the district and CTA when my lawsuit was
dismissed in 2005.


As fate would have it, however, my case
is back in court. CVESD’s law firm,
Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz,
brought this case back to San Diego Superior Court
in 2007 by filing a defamation suit against me
for publishing this website.

So it’s still possible that justice and sanity
will find their way back to Chula Vista Elementary
School District.

by Maura Larkins

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mary's garden grows quite well, but Nancy Kerwin's has a bare spot

Mary Guzman (far Left, holding check), a fourth grade teacher at Valley Vista Elementary, received a $1,200 school garden grant from the California Fertilizer Foundation at an all school assembly on Monday, May 19, 2008. Principal Gloria McKearney helped Mary hold the check.

Nancy Kerwin, the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s Executive Director of Student, Family, and Community Services and Support stood behind them.

Jan. 13, 2008
It seems that Nancy Kerwin's smile in the above photo might have had more than one cause. A month before the photo was taken, Nancy apparently got someone she didn't like, Dale Parent, demoted. Dale Parent's lawsuit may be found HERE.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No blaming the parents and community at this middle School

Keillor Leadership Academy in southeast San Diego improved its test scores.

June 10, 2008
"A southeast San Diego charter school has quietly done the improbable, becoming one of only two California middle schools to pull itself out of No Child Left Behind's purgatory...

"It's so easy to blame the parents, or the community" for low achievement, Executive Director Patricia Ladd said. "All those things we can't control. We have to take things as they are and stop the blame game."

"Keiller's director attributes many of its reforms, including its changed culture and new focus on vocabulary, to the freedom it enjoys after converting into a charter school. Charters are independently run but publicly funded schools that are not bound by school district rules..."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Richard Werlin has surfaced again

Richard Werlin has surfaced again
After causing big problems in Chula Vista and Richmond, the amazing Richard Werlin has gotten himself hired in Compton, by none other than his old pal at WCCCUSD, Kay Burnside.

And Kelly Angell, who helped get a lawsuit against Werlin regarding criminal actions thrown out of court on technical grounds, without any findings of fact, is now an employee of Fagen, Friedman and Fullfrost.

Is it a small world, or do certain people just come together naturally? Or both?

Here's the article I found:

School Board [Compton Unified School District] Considers Fourth Audit of District Operations
May 14, 2008
By Allison Jean Eaton

"...Last month, the school board supported three other similar audits at a total cost of $46,000 in the areas of human resources and personnel services, legal services and fiscal services, the latter of which will include an in-depth look at facilities funding and the affect it has on the district’s overall financial status.

"Consultant Richard Werlin is being paid $6,600 to audit the human resources and personnel services department. The Los Angeles-based law firm of Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost is studying the district’s legal services at a cost of $9,600...

"Superintended Kaye Burnside Ed.D., who officially took the helm of Compton Unified March 1, is exercising an “administrative best practice,” according to district Communications Director Christine Sanchez..."

from Jane Swanson blog

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bilingual education rejected at Castle Park Elementary

Why has Castle Park Elementary in Chula Vista had 11 principals in 11 years?

Because of the bilingual program. And because past is prologue.

The serious problems at Castle Park Elementary started when the bilingual program was introduced in 1994. Many teachers were furious, and took out their anger on the single bilingual teacher who came that year to teach kindergarten. The result? She was dismissed at the end of the year by a district whose policy is to not make any effort to determine why a teacher has been targeted for dismissal; district administrators allow school politics to make those decisions.)

The bilingual program added a teacher a year until it had a final total of four bilingual teachers in September 1997.

The program was sagotaged by the many teachers who refused to allow bilingual classes into their teaming arrangements.

Rae Correira, a district administrator who tried to arrange teaming in the 1997-1998 school year was suddenly transferred to a different job in the middle of the year.

The teachers ran the school. The principal did exactly what teacher leaders told her to do. And that included dismissing another bilingual teacher in 2001 (the dismissal was initiated the day after she filed 3 grievances).

It's June 2008 now, and the teachers have just gotten rid of their 11th principal since the bilingual program started. The twelfth principal in fourteen years will be chosen soon.

by Maura Larkins
Charlotte Blogs

Sunday, June 01, 2008

CVESD is suffering from a bad case of "white chalk crime" at Castle Park Elementary

An Interview with Karen Horwitz: White Chalk Crime
By Michael F. Shaughnessy
Senior Columnist

1) Karen, you have just written a book entitled "White Chalk Crime" The Real Reason Schools Fail. What prompted you to write this book?

The knowledge that those running our schools have absolute power to control what people can know about our schools prompted me to put together a book that would speak truth to this unbalanced power and thus empower the public to force change.

2) Your book, which is published by BookSurge Publishing out of South Carolina seems to document the issue of " teacher abuse". Could you define " teacher abuse " for us?

Teacher abuse...includes a myriad of ways of silencing educators from tormenting them with false evaluations, setting them up as pariahs amongst their colleagues, to pushing them out of their positions and it serves as an example so other educators will know to just go along with whatever the powers that be want even when it is harmful to children and/or illegal...

This culture
of abuse invites the worst in people and does lead to teachers abusing others...

3) Now, what do you mean by "teacher cleansing"?

Teacher cleansing is pushing teachers/educators out of their position and out of the profession by using trumped up charges or setting teachers up to fail with stacked classes, impossible, abusive parents, or inappropriate assignments and using these devious set-up's against them. By blacklisting any teacher who speaks truth to power, any teacher who is a nuisance to EducRAT$ will be cleansed from the profession.

4) What are EDucRat$, and how are they influencing education?

EducRAT$ are unethical, self-serving "leaders," administrators, and board members that use this out-of control power to have their way. They are "rats" whose concern for money ($) and power drives them to take advantage of whatever they can from kickbacks when ordering supplies, to squandering tax funds on legal fees to cleanse excellent teachers out of the system – all forms of White Chalk Crime.

The ways they influence education are obvious. They prioritize their needs and corrupt education to the point that it is dysfunctional. Most significantly, part of this corruption is their ability to make sure the public doesn't know they have corrupted it.

Their power to keep the truth from the public is the single most devastating aspect of all. It has enabled them to escalate their bad acts, while the public remains clueless...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dysfunction at Castle Park Elementary School and CVESD

How dysfunctional is Castle Park Elementary School in Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD)?

Well, what do you expect from a school where teacher crimes have been covered up for years at taxpayer expense?

Even in this day of almost universal lamentation over the state of education, Castle Park Elementary stands out.

There are many good teachers on the staff, but the veteran teachers at the school, although they've become smaller in number in recent years, have grown in power. Two veterans of the school have become presidents of Chula Vista Educators (CVE), the teachers union, during the past decade. This was not a coincidence.

The current Chula Vista Educators president, Peggie (Peg) Myers, earned political points for helping former presidents Gina Boyd and Jim Groth to violate every law and rule that had to be violated in order to protect Castle Park Elementary teacher Robin Donlan from having to retract her false allegations and say she was sorry for committing a misdemeanor against Maura Larkins.

Why not just say you are sorry when you hurt someone, you ask?

It would have prevented a lot of harm to children at Castle Park. But that's not how CVE and CVESD operate. They operate in secret, and in tandem, and protecting their power is more important to them than any number of children.

The number of dysfunctional teachers at Castle Park has been reduced, but those that remain have been causing lots of trouble. Nikki Perez has managed to cause big trouble for both principals.

As a result, Principal Carlos Ulloa has now resigned from the school in a manner eerily similar to the way principal Ollie (Olympio) Matos left the school three years ago.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Daniel Shinoff to appeal Danielle Cozaihr court decision

The Chula Vista Elementary School District board has once again abdicated its responsibility for moral decisionmaking. It has rehired attorney Daniel Shinoff, after an effort for a few years to use less controversial lawyers.

And Daniel Shinoff has decided to appeal the jury verdict won by teacher Danielle Cozaihr against the district.

A jury said the district violated the law.

I believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger's education budget cuts create a smoke screen for bad behavior by districts. CVESD probably won't lay off teachers (we've been through all of this before, when Rick Werlin was in charge of human resources at CVESD in 2003). But when they threaten to do it, everybody feels sorry for the pink slip teachers, and violations of the law against individual teachers don't seem as important any more. The first teacher that CVESD should rehire is Danielle Cozaihr.

But what happened to Danielle Cozaihr is an indicator of what is wrong with education: politcs matters more than kids.

Superintendent Lowell Billings is remarkably lazy. He doesn't pay any attention to what happens at schools until things go wrong. Then he does whatever the principal wants, or he fires the principal and does whatever the ruling clique of teachers wants. He never actually improves anything, just decides who gets fired.

And since the problems arise from a dysfunctional system--not from just one person-- the problems remain.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Larry Cunningham shows his support for Alex Cortes

CVESD board member Larry Cunningham (right) shows his support for Alex Cortes, proving that a little gender discrimination isn't a problem for Mr. Cunningham. What does he care about the opinion of the San Diego Superior Court?

Feaster Elementary v. Lowell Billings and Daniel Shinoff

See all Lowell Billings posts at CVESD Reporter.
See all Daniel Shinoff posts at San Diego Education Report.

from CVESD Reporter
by Maura Larkins

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.

The CVE gang is still together

The current makeup of the Chula Vista Educators board of directors proves that not much has changed since the board rubber-stamped the illegal actions of Gina Boyd, Jim Groth, Robin Donlan and the lawyers who helped them cover up their wrongdoing.

Peggie Myers
President 07-09
State Council 06-09
Full-Release CVE Office 427-1063

Monica Sorrenson
Vice President 07-09
Liberty Elementary School 397-5225

Nancy Potts
Treasurer 07-09
Valley Vista Elementary 479-7171 Ext. 5339

Barbara Dunwoodie
Secretary 07-09
Hilltop 422-8323 Ext.3333

James Groth
State Council 07-10
CTA Board

Barbara Dunwoodie (see also above)
State Council 05-08
Hilltop 422-8323 Ext. 3333

Allan Insko
PAR Chair 06-09
Sunnyside 479-0571 Ext. 5051

Joyce Abrams
Area Director A 07-08
Chula Vista Hills 482-7066 Ext. 2341

Norma Pacheco-Davis
[new member--was NOT involved in wrongdoing 2001-2005]
Area Director B 07-08
Los Altos 690-5880 Ext. 3848

Area Director C 07-08

Penny Martinez
[new member--was NOT involved in wrongdoing 2001-2005]
Area Director D 07-08
Valle Lindo 421-5151 Ext. 5254

Andra Johnston
Area Director E 07-08
Salt Creek 397-5494

Bargaining Chair 07-09

Executive Director Mary Ellen Berumen
[New executive director; not involved in decisions of former director Tim O'Neill]
427-1063 Ext 205