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Burnley DPS Testimony Closing Statement

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DPS Testimony Closing Statement

DPS Testimony Closing Statement

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  • 1. Closing Statement Kenneth Stephen Burnley, Ph.D. Friday, December 11, 2009 Audit Protocol Mr. Bobb thank you for providing time for me to set the record straight regarding real state transactions, during my administration, about which you have raised questions. As I have pointed out, the approach we took saved the taxpayers of Detroit millions. You certainly have the right to ask questions about matters which are not clear to you. However, performing an audit and not engaging the entity being audited to request answers to your questions, documentation and rationale, prior to placing your audit in the newspaper is irregular, rushing to judgment or has some other ulterior motive behind it. It comes across as guilty until proven innocent. We conducted hundreds of audits then met with the entity being audited and sought answers to our questions, documentation and rationale. We provided substantial time for this process (30-45 days), prior to releasing the audits to the newspaper. The results were varied; at times answers to our questions, documentation or rationale cleared the matter up. At other times consequences resulted. Lack of Leadership Continuity since June 30, 2005 I was CEO four 4 years; the Board ask to me remain 5 years; the take over legislation lacked transition features should the vote return the district to the board. My intent was never to go beyond the fifth; this was a family agreement. Since I left the district June 30, 2005, 41/2 years ago, there have been 4 superintendents and 1 financial manager. The lack of leadership continuity has contributed to rapid demise and destruction of some of the great work we accomplished. An indicator is the results published Tuesday, December 8 on the national test the TUDA. Detroit is in the midst of two regimes of leaderships. This to seldom works Since I left DPS the following major successes have been unimaginably eliminated or discontinued here are four examples; 1. The McGraw Hill Open Court Reading Program – This highly successful program which produced record “closing the achievement gap” gain scores on the 4th grade MEAP of 22 points the first year; 9 points the second year; and 7 points the third year. The program included: five days of professional development for teachers, substitute teachers, principals, central office leadership including me; systemic approach (district wide); a pacing guide; quality control (hundreds of hours more of training for select master teachers who went throughout the district ensuring quality, fidelity and providing assistance to classroom teachers); training in how to use data to improve instruction; national Open Court staff moved to Detroit to direct implementation; on time delivery of tractor trailer semi truck loads of books
  • 2. and materials delivered directly to the schools. The President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers said, “This is the best work we have done in the Detroit Public Schools in 50 years” 2. The Algebraic Thinking Program – This program is for struggling middle school students in mathematics; it is designed to help them pass algebra by the 9 grade. DPS students who were in the program for three years quadrupled the state gain on the MEAP; thus closing the mathematics achievement gap. The program came with a full time coach for every ten schools; five days of professional development up front and on going PD through out the year and more. 3. Deficit elimination plan – The plan utilized the state mechanism to assist in addressing a projected deficit. The reason for the projected deficit was well chronicled; as predicted by our administration spreading rapidly. The point is the plan was worked out between the state superintendent’s office and the treasurer’s office. It was left for the incoming board; we paid the first two year of the bond repayment plan to give the board time to address issues. The plan was thrown in the waste basket with the statement “I had nothing to do with this”. The plan required the closing of 20 schools per year to stay ahead of the projected decline in student enrollment and further deficits. We warmed this would happen to Detroit and many other districts in the future. Today 41 Michigan districts are in deficit with more to come. Our administration closed 71 schools and built 21 were they were need for a net closing of 51 schools. Compared to the per student dollars receive by surrounding metro Detroit districts, if DPS received the average of surrounding districts, we would have had $132 million dollars more to spent per year. 4. Detroit School of the Arts – We designed and built into the Detroit School of the Arts two state of the art television studios and a radio studio. We negotiated with Detroit Public Television‘s engineers to run the studios; we did not think our engineers had the skills sets. Detroit students would have had state of the art experiences and training that would have prepared them for college or the world of work. The contract was eliminated; I understand the studios and equipment remain unused. “The Urban Superintendent” – Messiah or Scapegoat by Hugh Scott Hugh Scott is prophetic in his book describing the realities of the Urban Superintendent. There is only one Messiah; therefore, if an urban superintendent stays long enough, attempts will be made to make them the scapegoat. This is exactly what the revisionist historians are attempting to do with our work. Instead DPS would have been much better off having built on our successes. Instead we drive more residents and their children out of Detroit as they listen to all that is wrong instead of much that is right. “Savage Inequities” – By Jonathan Kozol In America, some but not enough say, we care about urban students; our behavior contradicts. There is nothing wrong with urban students that nurture, resources and a true
  • 3. commitment can not correct. Kozol pointed this out years ago; our progress since has been minimal, compared to what an all out commitment could have produced. Our Administration’s Efforts made Our Predecessors Job’s Easier Mr. Bobb your job is easier because the state learned that the take over structure under which we worked caused too much consternation. You do not have to attend board meetings that are out of control. The initial Reform Board removed disorderly people and prosecuted them. The Reform Board under the next mayor allowed the meetings to become disorderly again to the point of the inability to meet, the board being rushed from the stage and escorted out to the building. Currently you are only the Emergency Financial Manger however, with out a board or a mayor to report to you would be the sole recipient all anger. We accomplished so in DPS that the Detroit News Editorial Board said, “Dr. Burnley you have accomplished so much in such a short period of time it is amazing. How much of this do you think you would have accomplished under the former board? We eliminated 4400 positions closed 71 schools, reduced the salaries and benefits of administrators. For these and many other tough decisions we made, the back windows of my home received pellet gun holes, my car were damaged, my home address was published on radio, protest marches occurred around my house. These are just a few issues I hope you never have to experience. As The You Move Forward Mr. Bobb I do not have to tell you your task is daunting. However, there remains wonderful, talented and well trained teachers, staff and administrators to help you. The metro districts know this; they always recruited our best employees and took as many of our students as they could to address their resource problems. The minority population of Detroit: Hispanic, Arab, Chaldean, Hmong, Bangladeshi and others deserve to be treated better than we were as African Americans growing up in Detroit. We started a Diversity Office with great success. The mission of the district is what happens behind the blue door. I wish you the greatest success for the benefit of the students, parents and taxpayers of DPS.