|An old white guy|
Last month good ole Petey Dreier, the Professor Emeritus Complexus Napoleonicus at Occidental College, lifted his head out of his plate full of soup long enough to write up a little blast at former PUSD Board Member Ramon Miramontes in the Pasadena Meekly (click here). Petey does his Pasadena Weakly Resurrection Thing every once in a while, which isn't too bad, I guess. I enjoy reading his glockenspiel. He's my favorite comedienne. When he is writing about things that should happen (click here) - or things that shouldn't happen (click here) - he is almost entertaining. Well, you know, in a klunky sort of way. I mean, I can appreciate clunky.
Funny thing is, the last time I saw Squeaky Pete was a year ago at a Pasadena Unified School District/Pasadena City Council Joint Meeting. The topic was Community Schools and the folks from Petey's life support group the IIPK (Invest in Pasadena Kids) and the council were falling over themselves to get a conflatulation ... uh, I mean a resolution, passed.
It must have passed, because things sure smell funny in Pasadena lately.
That was a great meeting. I got to see the less than subtle Sneaky Pete flip the bird at John Crawford, and my kids got to laugh because they heard their dad use the word "condoms" in council chambers. One of them even filmed it. (On an aside, I admit that it was super cool seeing Mayor McCheese at the Rose Parade doing the Rose Queen cake wave from atop the Pasadena float. I even gave him the bird salute that I learned from Petey Dreier.)
But when the fine Mayor of Pasadena, Mr. McCheese, tried to shut me down, I made the mistake of asking why the illustrious Dr. Heir Dreier wasn't shut down, too. That wasn't answered because McCheese and Squeaky Pete are not unlike a couple of hounds sniffing at one another's bums. Good ole Renatta Cooper even signaled for the 'Dena Po-Po to remove me. So, I left the po-po podium. After all, it would be a drag to have my kids watch me get arrested, as instigated by the very officials I tell them to respect.
I wrote something up about all of that meeting stuff a year ago which ran in The Sierra Madre Tattler, and then it ran here on our blogspace (click here). I laid it out straight. Educational consultants are an unmonitored field that needs some sort of standardization.
Educational Consultants, Screwing Public Schools One Conference at a Time
What is it that makes a consultant worth their salt? That is my question for today because I see and attend workshops by consultants all the time. I bring this up because consultants are paid thousands of dollars - sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars - by school districts in America every single day. But what do they do, and how is their quality actually measured?
Check it out, they are not. That’s right, it is simply private enterprise. Sure, you can call it a non-profit. All the smart guys do, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t profit from it. That just means you can use loopholes to get the breaks that hard working honest people can’t use.
Educational Consultants, especially the good ones (whatever that means since their is no industry standard) are simply the ones that market their wares best. All you need is an idea, a marketing firm, and some networking skills. Networking skills are critical because, like everything else in a corrupt, broken system - it’s not what you do, it’s who you know.
When the process is sucking eggs, someone has to say something about it. And I did. The only problem is that when I say it, and it was directed at the obvious cronyism that existed between the Good Ol' Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena and Ed Honowitz - well, that wasn't worth discussing. Maybe if McCheese had been as stimulated by me as he was by Petey, he would have understood the message.
Or Maybe not.
Chairman of the Bored
Now, keep in mind, the Board of Education here in PUSD is a miserably low paying ($400 monthly plus bennies) exercise in civic duty that only the insane - or a future politico - would desire. They generally work a real job; that is, a job that supports their lives - and this is a second job. One that is not necessarily understood by the public. I sure don't.
What I do understand is that school board elections, and especially these in PUSD, are big money elections with all sorts of wrangling, bickering, and in-fighting. Political mumbo-jumbo-gumbo. The City Council and the City Plan and the City School are all consolidating under a single plan and goal.
Hey, and why the hell not? Standardization has worked so well in every other arena, right?
So the Board here in PUSD has historically been divided, and when people like Mr. Dreier are involved in championing candidates and ideas, it seems they are split even more so. In fact, it is almost funny to consider that Dreier backed both Ramon Miramontes and Scott Phelps in the past. I wonder if he can even speak their names without the veins in his head a-bulging. They weren't good listeners, so now he puts his energy into lashing out at them here and there, now and again.
Why? Well, from the newest blast at Ramon, ol' Speaky Peet wants you to think there is something up, something amiss, and something foul stinking up the air.
It wasn't me, he'd like you to think. But, yeah, it is. One thing you need to realize when you are dealing with political animals is, well, that they are political animals. The law of the jungle is clear. Might makes right.
Say it Again, Petey
Don't assume that I think one political slant is better or worse than the other. I could care less about any of it. My interest is always personal. It's just that the people that dislike Dreier are generally people who have treated me and mine own with kindness.
As mentioned, Petey is a grudgemaster. People who don't fall in line with his idealism are left in the cold - at best. Verbal cannon fodder at worst. Don't kid yourselves, either. He is more than a competent writer. He's good. Clunky good. He puts things into a simple, easy to read narrative, and he highlights either the best, or the worst traits.
However, to his ultimate disadvantage is that the people he needs in his corner are apathetic. So he picks battles with the wrong people, and the people he manages to pull into his camp are either naive to his goal, impressed by his fame, and/or politically feeble-minded. Or dedicated apple polishers.
So let's analyze Petey's latest babblings, because it is as funny as they get, and leaves out the usual stuff that Petey always tries not to step in when he is railing on someone else. Pay close attention to the language, innuendo, and the implications therein. Please fasten your seat belts.
Um, Which Sources are you Referring To?
What I love about rumors is that they are juicy tidbits of mostly improbable information, and when directed at people I dislike, they are almost funny. But I am not foolish enough to actually believe any of it, and definitely not one to pass that information on.
Why? My motives, if I have any, have nothing to do with implementing a new government or a new order. I am perfectly content to work within the parameters offered, and I have no desire to tear them down - only to replace them with a new type of corrupt government.
I run into communists all of the time on pickets and protests.
I tell them what I am telling you: I don't have the time - nor the patience - to read your literature that you will ask me for a "donation" for. Your party has nothing to offer me, not even cake and punch. Your revolution is a farce, and a fraud. Go away.
Hey, I smile when I say it, so whatever.
So, anyway. Let's check out the pattern of reliable source information served up here. Keep an eye on the frequent use of generalizations, in Petey's Miramontes Manifesto ... and let's enjoy all of the unnamed, random informants.
- Sources say that PUSD Superintendent Jon Gundry ...
- Board members and community residents are wondering why ...
- Miramontes is known for what one elected official called ...
- who alienated many people in the community ...
- and who is known as ...
- School board members and other community residents have witnessed ...
- Some observers have suggested ...
So. I count about seven statements that we are to assume are not only reliable sources, but also completely separate quotable entities. I highly doubt that. I have no reason to believe anything Peter Dreier - or anyone else - says based on such citations. Why should I?
I surmise that not only are there at best, maybe, three different parties alluded to - and that they are not only inaccurate representations of the public school community, but also that Dreier is just as guilty of puffing up his numbers as he suggests Miramontes does.
I can pretty much peg most of the statements to one - or maybe two people at best, and they are the last vestige of the dynasty ol' Petey wanted to see in place and puppeteered by the Pasadena City Council.
This is a guy that one unnamed random board member referred to as a human stain.
Or, to be mutually elusive, and to use another Peteyistic unattributed citation - yet another vague unnamed community member suggested that sources for the Queen of the Bored say "We are not amused."
Your day is over, chump. Move on back to Boston. Take my favorite urbane superintendent wannabe - Elizabeth Blanco - with you.
We All Gotta Work Somewhere
Petey's critiques of Miramontes start with a discussion of workplace, and of job performance. Well, sort of. Petey nabs some numbers and tosses them out there. I love that randomness.
Miramontes has some experience with online education. He has been on the board of the Los Angeles Online High School, chartered by the Antelope Valley Unified School District. The high school ranked among the worst-performing schools in the state, with a 25 percent graduation rate (12 percent for Latino students). The school’s API score dropped 52 points last year, meeting none of its annual measurable objectives.
What Petey doesn't comment on is how the Online High School performed, nor on whether Miramontes was on board long enough to even affect the scores in the first place. It is a deceptive use of data, and either shows that Petey is oblivious to the nature of the statistics beast (unlikely) or drawing a false analogy by inference. Draw your own conclusion.
Furthermore, many schools and districts did not meet their annual goals, and remained in what is called Program Improvement. These plans actually justify monies for student programs, though they become more restrictive in the allotment over time.
In any event, the previous measurement tools were so deceptive and impossible to decode for just about everyone in and out of the field that they are being replaced with - get this - a new testing system that collects the information online. Maybe Miramontes was ahead of the game by a step. Or maybe even two.
While on the PUSD board, Miramontes taught business courses at LA Southwest College but, according to informed sources, in 2012 he was put on administrative leave after getting into a physical confrontation with another college instructor. Although it is not known how long he was on leave or how it was resolved, Miramontes is no longer teaching at Southwest College. His name does not appear in its current on-line list of courses.
Oh, hey, there are those informed random sources again. That is so weird, they just keep not speaking up.
What Petey failed to include, of course, is whether the other individual was also put on administrative leave. Last time I checked, confrontations involve two or more people. Which begs the obvious question: is that the source? A bitter colleague?
What is also not discussed is why Miramontes may have left. Perhaps he found something better to do?
Dreier doesn't hesitate to point out that Miramontes is working a lot of jobs. As if that is a bad thing. Heaven forbid he leave one of the jobs.
Make up your mind Dreier.
Either it is a good thing, or a bad thing to work more than one job. Picking and choosing by whim ain't cutting it. Apparently, if you leave one of that multitude of jobs, and you aren't a Petey acolyte, then it's a bad thing.
Being a consultant serving a multitude of capacities is a no-no. Well, unless you are a friend of Petey. He never brought it up as a negative when the consultants were, um, Petey himself, or any of his pals in Pasadena politics.
Life's many changes tend to direct one's decisions. That doesn't seem to be a topic of discussion, however.
What you do when you are older and your kids are done with school tends to differ greatly from the goals and ambitions of a younger, hungrier person. Maybe Petey forgot what brought him to California from Boston when he was, uh, a younger man. Or at least before Petey got canned from his housing authority gig back east yet.
Hey, it's politics. I get it. But what I don't get is why a guy who is a university professor, author, talking head, blogger, consultant, and participant in quasi-political nonprofit groups - apparently all simultaneously as well - feels the need to critique someone for doing the exact same thing.
… he served as the executive director of the Southeast Cities School Coalition, a nonprofit group created by George Cole, a former Bell City Council member and influence-peddler who was one of several officials convicted last March on multiple felony counts ... Miramontes served as the group’s executive director from 2009 until sometime last year when the organization dissolved.
Guilt by association. Cool. Tres McCarthy. That is one of my favorite non-issues to bring up. I love that Petey can splash in the mud with the rest of us. I get lots of Bell rumors thrown my way, but none of them involved Miramontes.
In May 2011, Miramontes added to his resume another job — executive director of the Bassett Education Foundation — although it is not clear from its Web site how many hours a week Miramontes works, or what he does, for the organization.
Check out Mr. Back to the Future! No wonder Petey has Ramon doing the Hey Mon! job marathon (click here).
Apparently he doesn't know how to use a timeline. Kind of scary for a guy who writes histories. Of course, Petey's historical interests, even when discussing people with disabilities such as, say, Helen Keller, don't really focus on achievement. They celebrate radical political leanings (click here) which, in today's climate, are stylish. At least in some circles.
But hey, anything to promote the party, right?
Where is the Outrage?
Correct me if I am wrong. Isn't the workplace of Petey - Occidental - also known by the not so complimentary moniker Rape University?
Isn't this the school that settled with victims of sexual assault with the understanding that essentially removed any consideration of wrongdoing on the school's part? Apparently what has been created there in its place is a culture of enforced victim silencing (click here).
Petey, why are you silent on this topic?
Where is the outrage?
Rate My Nutty Professor
Using the research model of Herr Dreier, I went to the site Rate My Professors and typed in Petey (click here). There were 56 ratings. Wowsa. That is hardly what I would call a fair sample.
However, if we are using the same spotty documentation and suspect standards, I think we are skating on thin enough ice to all drown together.
It appears that the highest achievable score one can earn on this on-line service is a 5, and Petey got himself, well, less. He also earned a "hotness factor" chili pepper rating of zero, just like the one Penny Livermore at Loyola in Chicago (link) got. Ouch! However, Ms. Livermore did score an overall academic rating of 4.8.
Now I am not nearly the math guy that Navigio is, but in my simplicity I'd call that a pretty solid 96%. Petey should do so well. We'd call that an A if we were using a reasonable grading scale.
Our dear nutty professor earned a 2.7. That works out to a little better than half of the available points. That is a solid, uh 54%. We'd call that a fail ... yes, Petey earns an F from the consumers.
If it is any consolation, Mr. Dreier scored below the average of the school's 3.69 by almost an entire point! That would be a nice, comfy 73%. We would have to call that a lower end grade of C.
Oh, wait, that's not a consolation, is it?
In the vernacular of the neo-speak mendacity of the State of California, which teachers like me are forced to give as grades, and which we are held accountable to - which is the same way Mr. Dreier held Mr. Miramontes accountable - we would say that Mr. Dreier is Far Below Basic according to his very own students' reviews.
That's not so good.
And the Dreier Consumers Say
Petey's critics at Rate My Professors should be heard, and I would think, responded to. In the world of the everyman, where every voice matters, it is sad that our champion of the people, Professor Petey, has not responded to any of the people who have rated him. Maybe the everyman is not so important, after all.
Now granted, some of these posts go back a while, but accuracy is not all that important, right? We are working a slant, here. After all, I used the professor's very own precedent.
And the Survey Says …
These beauties came from a Spell Check Wizard Brigade:
"Professor Drier abuses his position of authority, which is inexcussable"
"Absolutly the worst professor at this school. Avoid at all costs."
This one comes from the Grammatically and Spell Check Challenged:
"Hes long-winded and rambles on a lot in class. He is an EASY grader. Theres no reason to be intimidated by him. He just expects students to read the material and them talk about it in class."
These babies came from The Enemies of the Shift Key, also known as typists out to win over my own little black heart:
"lecture handouts? take one and leave - he'll read off it all class."
"a joke. non-academic guy of interest only to those not intelligent enough to think for themselves."
"calm, intelligent, can be tough. great teacher, great discussions"
What stood out most, however, were the posts that repeatedly question his politics, and the interference of his views on not only the academic delivery, but on his grading:
"really smart guy, you just have to get used to his style and watch out for any remarks that may be construed as Republican"
"He is a doctrinaire and biased political advocate, not a balanced and disinterested scholar.....Easy grader, unless you challenge his political views."
"I wouldn't take another class from Dreier if my admission at Oxy depended on it! Workload is insane....... Its like his entire purpose of being a professor is to indoctrinate all of his students with left wing ideals--I lost points on an essay for opposing socialism"
"Worst prof here, liberal and will try to make you too"
"Terrible terrible professor. He is more of a liberal propagandist than a politics professor. If you think conservatively at all, he will attack your points of view in class."
" Dreier changed my life....... he punished me for not agreeing with him with a bad grade. He is biased, vindictive and a liar."
"Good teacher, but handouts are very biased. He is obviously very union oriented and throw-money-at-it-and-watch-it-grow type. With a little outlook adjustment, could be a great asset."
"If you are a socialist, or pretend to be, this is an easy A because he just grades based on how fully your agree or disagree with him. It's really that simple."
"I dunno about Commie, but he is certainly a Marxist, no doubt about it. Very biased classes. Worked in elective politics, but must have been a more moderate then. Only take this class if your a Green Party member looking to jerk off on your own beliefs."
"This is not a class where you learn and are graded on your performance, it is a political indoctrination chamber where you are rewarded with an A if you work for Dreier's political movement outside of class and are punished if you do not. If you openly disagree with him, watch out!"
"Pretentiousness, thy name is Dreier. Kiss any chance of getting an A in his classes goodbye if you're anything more-conservative than Ralph Nader. Or better yet, just don't take his classes. This guy is simply awful."
"Dreier seems like he wants to bring the Soviet Union to LA. He hates and feuds with almost everyone who does not want to give up freedom, their car or own a home. He is Mr. Grumpy and seems to not understand what fun is. He wants us to listen to the commie Weavers from the 1950's about how horrible America is. Dr. Dreier is a troubled man. SAD!"
From the mouths of Oxy education consumers, speaking about their customer experiences. Sounds like Petey is the university equivalent of the rest of us.
Miramontes and the PUSD Contract
The contract between Miramontes and PUSD seems to be the thing that has Petey's panties way up in the hizzy this year. So much so that he bounces between questioning the integrity of the contract to criticizing Superintendent Jon Gundry for entering into such an agreement in the first place.
Sources say that PUSD Superintendent Jon Gundry talked with Miramontes last year about helping the district with two initiatives. PUSD has no rule requiring a hiatus before a former board member can do business with the district, but the Miramontes contract has stirred some board members to consider adopting one.
A contract dated Aug. 1 reveals that Miramontes’ consulting firm, Zocalo Strategic Group (ZSG), is seeking $54,000 to help the district develop a “virtual” English Learner Student (ELS) academy, as well as create program to recruit high school students from China to attend PUSD. On Nov. 1, ZSG sent PUSD an invoice for $8,500 for work it allegedly did in September and October. At a billing rate of $100 an hour, this translates into 85 hours of work, but the invoice does not itemize how many hours Miramontes worked, when he worked, or what he did. Gundry had not informed the full school board about either initiative.
I want to make it understood that nothing about Petey's questions here regarding hourly rates and documentation is out of line. I personally believe this is a reasonable question. However, this is hardly a novel situation. That doesn't make it alright, it just is typical of how some consultants frame their billing. What matters to Petey is when the invoice comes from someone that is not one of his special ones.
But it is also clear that the discussion between the two took place some time back, so this contract discussion is hardly a sudden revelation. Superintendents everywhere enter agreements with consultants. So do school principals. That this one flew under the radar of the school board until a, ahem, "source" finally got around to noticing it should come as no surprise.
My question is, why didn't Her Majesty the Board President Self-Elect notice this before now? And didn't it happen on HER watch?
I also agree with Mr. Dreier regarding information from "the source" about the length of time between stepping down from the Board to engaging in business with PUSD. Maybe it shouldn't be allowed at all. Nothing, including donations which could be used for tax deductions. Nothing. That would mean, however, no more supports from Carol Liu's education guru "Mr. Ed" Honowitz, and no more catering from former PUSD Board President Bob Harrison, or signs from Tom Selinske.
Or, for that matter, quality artistic photography from Ed Honowitz.
Of course this may run contrary to the partnerships cities and school districts have been trying to establish. Do we only support those partnerships when the people involved are our friends, or political allies? Isn't that kinda like cronyism?
Now there are other little jabs that are so petty it almost seems ridiculous to point out (Parent Revolution, Bagget, and campaign managing) but Petey does all that anyway. This is all really done to grind an old axe one more time: the myth that Miramontes was the sole divisive one on the PUSD board.
I have been paying attention, too, however, and my take on it is that the divisive members were actually Cooper and Honowitz. Now, granted, I am not a highly decorated educator with a 54% approval rating who writes books, but my opinions are valid, too. After all, everyman matters, right? Right On!
Petey's Howler of the Week
School board members and other community residents have witnessed Miramontes’ anger management problems and been subject to his abusive and threatening phone calls. In 2011, Miramontes got into a shouting match with mild-mannered Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard at a public event, where Bogaard — then 73 years old — warned Miramontes not to push him, according to onlookers.
Beside the obvious - which school board members? What other community residents? - is the context of the entire paragraph. Mild mannered Mayor Bill Bogaard got into a shouting match with Ramon? Really? Doesn't the term "match" imply it was a two way street? Since when does "mild-mannered" and "shouting match" equate to the same thing?
Am I misunderstanding this, or is it implied that someone pushed someone else? Did someone need to be warned not to do it? Am I missing something here, or is it unclear what happened? I mean, it is, once again, attributed by unidentified onlookers - and then blasted out through the Dreier Grapevine, but what does it actually mean?
Is there a reason why Petey felt it necessary to point out the mayor's age at the time? Is he suggesting that situations that may arise are too much for a person in the twilight years? Is this done to elicit sympathy for the mayor, or to suggest he is too old to deal with aspects of the job?
Since two years have elapsed since that golden moment, so should we now be concerned for this dear, mild-mannered yet shouting match participant of a Pasadena Mayor?