Thursday, April 25, 2013

Welcome to Educate Lorain


My name is Brian Reinhardt.  Other than the time I spent in the Army I’ve spent most of my life here in Lorain. I've also been a parent of a child in Lorain’s schools for the last 16 years. I do not possess any special degrees in education nor have I had some sort of special training in education.  I’m just a dedicated father who cares about education, has seen firsthand the collapse of education in Lorain and how it affects all of our children. My intent here is to inform Lorain’s parents about what’s happening in our, Our, OUR schools and about trends in education.  This will all be from the perspective of a PARENT.

I have a 4th grade son at Toni Morrison Elementary here in Lorain and two college aged daughters that are doing their things at Oberlin College and University of Akron.  My wonderful wife Susan is an RN at Mercy with two degrees.(she’s actually the smart one in the family).  I am also the VP of the Toni Morrison PTO and volunteer in my son’s school every day.  I am however not biased in any way in favor of Lorain City Schools, in fact in the past I have been very critical of what’s happened here. I’m working on getting past that.

I have no political aspirations and no desire to be on the board of education.  I do not “love or hate” teachers, principals or schools although I really like the school my son is attending right now.  I do not love or hate unions other than when they, or anybody for that matter, block the education of our children through silly rules. Whether or not you're Democrat, Republican, Chinese, American, African American or Martian, doesn't matter.  What matters is educating our children.

I would request from those of you who care to read this blog that you comment openly and from the heart.  That’s what you'll get from me.  Normally I hold no punches, research before I write and have a knack for finding any piece of information I seek no matter how small.  I will not attack you in your responses or opinion and from time to time there are going to be spirited discussions here and even heated arguments. We should however try to treat each other with some semblance of respect and courtesy.

We have a daunting task here in Lorain.  It will take the entire “team” to turn this thing we call education in Lorain around.  I hope to make everyone who reads this blog be part of that team.

Welcome to my Educate Lorain blog and hopefully we'll all learn something.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My line on the Academic Distress Commission initial meeting

I attended the nearly 3 hour meeting last night as noted in the story. I'll try and put the way I saw the proceedings into words that Lorain's parents can understand.
The first meeting's goals are outlined in the ORC whereas the commission has to take certain steps, such as being sworn in, review sunshine and ethics laws and adopt their bylaws. The Ohio Department of Education also put on several presentations regarding academic standings and procedures.
The commission was given time to review a bylaws "example" presented by the state and they amended the meeting notifications as noted in the story.
What was left out of the story were comments made by Mr. Ramos regarding two paragraphs in the bylaws covering public comment and the recording of the meetings. That has yet to be decided. I question why either the commission chair or Mr. Ramos would have an issue with public comment as formatted in the bylaws and the chair Bill Zelei was obviously "annoyed" that I requested to speak. He allowed the union rep and Mr. Tucker speak. It should also be noted that the children who attend Lorain's schools are the ones being helped by this commission and the commission answers to the Ohio Department of Education who answers to US. They cannot lose sight of that very important fact. We will be involved in this process, one way or another.
The commission's meetings and activities are public record just like boards of education activities are. All documents generated for the purpose of the commission are public record as well as the minutes of the meetings and the agendas.
The one problem with written agendas, minutes and other "documents" covered under FOIA is that they are devoid of character. Character that can only be seen by observing the members in action. One thing that will certainly not be covered in the minutes of yesterday's meeting was the disturbing "banter" between Mr. Ramos, Mr. Patterson and Mr. Zelei in deciding who would be vice-chair for the commission. It was decided between the commission members that since Mr. Zelei was selected by the state to be chair that the vice chair should be someone local and NEITHER Patterson or Ramos appeared to want the job. It was even joked that "we take a break so they could flip a coin". Mr. Patterson did eventually say he'd take the job but not until after the frankly embarrassing back and forth.
Hopefully it was because it was a new environment for the members that guided their laughter and "witty" comments, but we're not laughing, this stuff isn't funny and you have some immensely important work to do.