Transparent California

Transparent California

For those who might not know, transparentcalifornia.com is a site that allows you to look up the salary and/or pension of any California public employee, which includes those of us involved in K-12 education. From their About page: Transparent California is provided by the California Policy Center and the Nevada Policy Research Institute as a public service.   Transparent California is dedicated to providing accurate, comprehensive and easily searchable information on the compensation of public employees in California.   Complete and accurate information is necessary to increase public understanding of government and help decision makers, including elected officials and voters, make informed decisions. Just click the link or image above, and type the name of the employee in whom you’re interested. While the tool shouldn’t be “weaponized” or used as a “gotcha,” some questions may be worth considering, such as:   Does better pay make better teachers? That is, is there a correlation between teacher pay and teacher effectiveness? FWIW, Transparent California would argue the answer to this question is “no.” Check out their Consolidated 2014 K-12 Press Release to see the data. Should a teacher’s or administrator’s pay be tied to their performance? Obviously this is a hot-button topic. While much of the research in this area has pointed to the ineffectiveness of performance-based pay, one study conducted by Harvard University’s Roland G. Fryer, Jr., The University of Chicago’s John List and Steven D. Levitt (co-author of the bestselling Freakonomics), and the University of California San Diego’s Sally Sadoff offers a unique viewpoint, arguing that “framing a teacher incentive program in terms of losses rather than gains leads to improved student outcomes.” Click here for a quick Washington Post rundown of the...
Ed-Data

Ed-Data

Ron Bennett, the gregarious president of School Services of California recently referred me to ed-data.k12.ca.us, an excellent resource that contains a wealth of publicly-accessible information about “student demographics and performance, staffing and teacher salaries, as well as information about financial reports for all districts, county offices of education, and state.” From their About page: Launched in 1996, the Ed-Data website is designed to offer educators, policy makers, the Legislature, parents, and the public quick access to timely and comprehensive data about K-12 education in California. It is operated through a partnership of the California Department of Education (CDE), EdSource, and the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT). FCMAT’s California School Information Services (CSIS) hosts and maintains the site.   In addition to a wealth of data at multiple levels and over many years, Ed-Data also offers articles and explanations that provide important context for the data.   Click the link or image above, and you are granted instant access to all of the records the State of California requires of its public schools. I pulled a quick financial report comparing the per-student expenditures of all of the school districts in the state in the following categories: Certificated salaries (teachers) Classified salaries (these are positions like librarians, custodians, campus supervisors, instructional aides, health techs, etc.) Employee benefits Books and supplies Services and other expenditures A subtotal of the sum of the five categories listed above I’ve embedded a Google Spreadsheet with the data below (sorted from least to greatest by Column Q, the Subtotal Expenditures), but I really encourage you to pull your own information. If I’m being honest, these numbers paint a less-than-pretty...
Lessons from Temecula

Lessons from Temecula

In case you missed it, Temecula Valley Unified School District’s board recently called for a review in the district’s hiring practices after it was discovered that the Superintendent’s daughter was hired to a position—previously nonexistent—which would pay up to $4,165 a month and required only a high school diploma. While those details might be cause for suspicion, the real problem occurred when it was discovered that the daughter has a criminal record. While it’s certainly not my intention to further shame a local district during what is undoubtedly a sensitive time, I do think there is an opportunity to glean two important board governance lessons from this unfortunate development:   First, we should all be aware of the fact that public education is no less prone to instances of nepotism than the private sector. It is natural—and indeed should be anticipated—for Superintendents to want to bring in a team of leaders with whom they have a prior relationship. We see this all the time in the sporting world, where a recently-hired coach will bring in assistants he/she has previously worked with. However, when those people are offered jobs solely because of the existing relationship, beat out more qualified candidates during the interview process, receive compensation above what is being paid to similar positions, or have entirely new positions created just for them, major ethical questions arise. Board members should give the same level of deliberation to items on the consent agenda as to those items that are actionable. In meetings that follow Robert’s Rules of Order, the consent agenda allows the board to vote on a group of items en bloc (all together in one motion). This can speed up meetings by allowing for...

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