Friday, April 1, 2011

Guess what's wrong with this???

Dear Employee:
The Total Compensation Review (TCR) Committee is the Superintendent's key advisory body for compensation and benefits reform in the Division. It was established in February 2011, and I am writing to invite you to join our Committee - it is open to all employees. I am also sending an example of our recent work - the Committee's guidance on the use of the 21 additional hours when the school year starts on August 29.
What is TCR? Why join? It's a study group for the next 2-3 years. We need your experience to develop the best possible package of career incentives including monetary and non-monetary benefits for ACPS employees. We want you to be part of the solution to solve some critical issues in our transformation to world-class status. Those who participate will be credited with certification points. Members will also gain recognition and knowledge in this emerging field of school reform. Over the next two years, we have identified four areas to examine what works, what needs to improve and how to make the improvement(s). The areas and guiding questions are:
  • Career-ladder and Salary. What should be the criteria for a career-ladder and salary level? What of support staff?   
  • Student time. How might we extend the student day?
  • Professional Learning. How do we improve teacher collaboration and learning?
  • Benefits. What is the best program combining health, dental, vision, pension, life insurance, disability insurance, savings programs, leave donation and flexible spending accounts? How do we go what is best for all employee groups?
Who are the current members?  As of our March 30 meeting, we have 24 volunteers signed up to serve on these work groups (if your name is missing please let me know). Anyone may join a group yet we would like a volunteer from every school, and for a few support staff to join the salary or benefits group. The current  members (*chairs) are:
Career-Ladder & Salary   Student Time               Benefits                                       Professional Time
Jones – TCW                       Richardson - Adams      Domokos-Bays - Food Service     Feltman - Patrick Henry
Wallin – Central Office         *Bohringer - Tucker      *Downs - Patrick Henry                 *Fletcher - Mt. Vernon
Hohman – Hammond 1         Neidermeyer - Adams   *Foley - Tucker                             Martin - Central Office
Wurl – Mason                      Clinger - TCW PTSA                                                          *Ryan - George Mason
*Arscott – Minnie Hwd                                                                                                    Gutierrez - TCW
Selander – Minnie Hwd
Casamo – MacArthur
*Madigan – TCW
Hutchings - Central Office
Brown – Tucker
Warden – PTSA
Dameo - Central Office
    How much time and work does this take?  About an hour a month. As Project Director (and EdD candidate), I will make it as easy on the members as possible by doing research, scheduling speakers, drafting reports and updating the website. What we need all members to do is to attend the work group meeting and participate in the discussions - we need your experience, wisdom and ideas to develop the best possible recommendation(s) for the Superintendent. This is the opportunity to provide your input to the decision making process to help transform the Division. Committee members will also have the opportunity to personally outbrief the Superintendent. Work groups may decide to do other work such as a survey, visit another school Division or attend a local conference. For more information, please see our website at

   What did the Committee recommend on how to use the 21 additional hours for professional learning? Please see the attachment. The Committee developed the guidelines for the upcoming regulation on the use of school-based, professional learning councils and teams. The regulation will be published no later than May 1st.

In the interim, start now. We recommend that your school use these guidelines and begin its planning now (some schools are doing this already). Each school should have its plan on the use of  the 21 hours completed before the end of the school year.

   Thank you for taking time to read this email. I appreciate your time to read this message. I encourage you to join the Committee. Please let me know if you have any questions. The next meeting date will be announced later but is likely April 27 or May 4. Also, check out the new HR website at . We hope you like the new look.

Best regards,
   Stephen M. Wilkins
   Project Director for Division Compensation Review
   Ph: 703-824-6949
   Visit us at
   Help transform the Division...Join today.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Response from ACPS

Re: ACPS Underground : An Open Letter and A Bit Of A Lecture

ACPS Communications Directors claims no knowledge of any email sent from her office concerning the agreement to answer questions posed on this blogsite.  We, at The Underground, take her at her word.  Here is the latest exchange from Ms. Alexander:

Kelly Alexander

 to me
show details Mar 30 (2 days ago)

You must be mistaken.  No such email was sent by or from me to you.  Nor have I made any agreement of any kind with you or anyone else associated with the Blog to which you refer.

Ms. Alexander

Kelly L. Alexander
Director, Community/School Partnerships and Communications
Alexandria City Public Schools
Main Office: (703) 824-6635
Direct:  (703) 824-6703
Mobile: (703) 472-0318

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

From: "Voltaire"
To: "kelly alexander" <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 7:44:18 PM
Subject: ACPS Underground : An Open Letter and A Bit Of A Lecture

Voltaire has sent you a link to a blog:

Dear Ms. Alexander, Several days ago we received an email, purportedly from your office. You agreed to have the Superintendent answer a series of questions. Please let us know the status of that agreement.

Blog: ACPS Underground
Post: An Open Letter and A Bit Of A Lecture

Powered by Blogger 
to Kelly
show details 7:01 PM (23 hours ago)
Ms. Alexander,

I want to sincerely apologize for having assumed that an email purporting to be from your office was authentic.  I will let the followers of the blogsite know.

Very apologetically,

- Show quoted text -

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Here it is...your comment of the week!!

"So why not spend a few more days there
getting a great education?" Here are a few
reasons: 1) It is presently not a great education.
The State did not just make up the PLA label
out of nowhere. As a graduate of T.C. Williams
I am shocked by what I see allowed within my
old high school. 2) Countless research (thank
you to those who cited what was put out by
the School Board) does not indicate that throwing
more time into the equation produces any better
results. 3) Extra days = extra dollars. The economy
is still in a recession and local governments, this one
included, do not have the money to waste on dispelled
initiatives. 4) This is just one more variable put into
place alongside countless initiatives crammed in one
after the other by the superintendent. If there is
success at T.C. and other schools, what will be
determined to be the cause of that success?
Increased time, a change in staff, revamped
curriculum, fresh fruits and veggies? An
elementary understanding of  planning and 
experimentation dictates that you minimize the 
variables to best draw conclusions and replicate 
what works. Learning opportunities outside of 
the classroom impact students far beyond the 
concrete walls of our schools. Increasing time 
within school and adding days to the year decreases 
those opportunities and thus decreases positive impacts on student learning.See more...
By Anonymous on Folkerts in Denial at 8:27 PM

Here it is...your comment of the week!

To those who feel slighted by this forum: You can always post your ideas and comments on Dr. Sherman's blog. He updates it daily, responds immediately, and encourages open and honest dialog. (my nose just grew a foot)
By Anonymous on An Open Letter and A Bit Of A Lecture at 8:36 PM

An Open Letter and A Bit Of A Lecture

Just over a week ago The Underground sent a request to Dr. Sherman's Communication's Director.  A response indicated that Dr. Sherman would be willing to answer a series of questions under certain circumstances.  To date, no responses have been forthcoming.  I am urging each of the followers of The Underground to contact  Mrs. Alexander and ask that the questions posed, be answered.

Kelly L. Alexander 
Director, Community/School Partnerships and Communications 
Alexandria City Public Schools 
2000 North Beauregard Street 
Alexandria, Virginia 22311 
Tel: 703-824-6635 
Fax: 703-824-6741 

Additionally (and this is the last time that this will be addressed), there are a few reasons why some comments are deleted from the blog.  The first is technical, and it affects comments of all persuasions.  From time to time, your comments are routed to the spam folder automatically.  There, they are known to languish before being discovered and, at other times deleted.  More commonly, though, the comments that are deleted fall into one of two areas:

1) Constant, non-productive, sniping between two commenters-this is a waste of everyone's time and, in short, won't be tolerated.
2) The same couple of individuals, who are unabashedly pro-Sherman (and that's fine), continually make the point that The Underground only serves to poke holes in the "vision" and strategy of the Sherman administration, without offering any alternatives.  These comments are deleted because they are red herrings and simply distractions.  Anyone who takes the time to read both the posts and the comments on this blog knows that both contain thoughtful and thought provoking alternatives (admittedly, not always) to what currently is pitched by the administration as effective best practices.

This blog does not purport to be one in which all points of view are given equal time and representation. If you feel as if your viewpoints are not receiving the consideration that they deserve, please, start your own blog.

"Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills." 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Folkerts in Denial

Alexandria News, Carla Branch writes:
Last Thursday, Alexandria City Public School Superintendent Morton Sherman went to Richmond to ask the Virginia State Board of Education to grant a waiver, which would allow ACPS to begin school before Labor Day. The Board deferred action on the request until April.
“The Board asked us to amend the waiver request to include specific school by school programmatic innovations that will be implemented if we are granted the waiver,” said Alexandria School Board Chair Yvonne Folkerts. “We will amend the waiver to address the issues that the Board raised and resubmit it on April 28. I remain convinced that this is the right thing for ACPS and believe that it will be granted.”
State law precludes public schools from opening before Labor Day because of Virginia’s tourism industry. The State Board has granted waivers to other school systems for various reasons.
“We have worked very hard to gain community support for beginning school early and, while there are still dissenters, most agree that it is what we should do,” Folkerts said.

New Flash...Breaking News!!!

An alert Undergrounder spots the following:

Strike one for the ACPS Pre-Labor Day waiver.