Town Square

Math program's flaws hidden from school board, public

Original post made on Feb 23, 2017

For Mountain View Whisman School District's elected board members, the cascade of problems that flowed from the ill-fated new Teach to One math program wasn't even on the radar. Every passing week that teachers grappled with technological crises and numerous parents demanded fixes was another week the district office stayed mum about the problems.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 23, 2017, 11:12 AM


Posted by Graham Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2017 at 12:05 pm

There is no excuse as to why Rudolph and Bauer kept this from the Board for so long. What else does the Board not know about? I've heard it through the grapevine that Rudolph is somewhat of a bully with principals and teachers and that Bauer does not have the pedagogical background to deal with the achievement gap of the poor performing Latino students having been appointed by Ghysels, our past fiasco of a superintendent. Both should be shown the door for damaging children's learning and experience with basic math. It's just short of child abuse. I really can't comment any more. It's just too upsetting. They can't be trusted.

Posted by To Kevin and Alan
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm

You are hitting it out of the park! Thank you for your investigative journalism and parent investigation on behalf of our middle schoolers. Without it we would literally know nothing.

Now... NO. EXCUSES. Show the arrogant bully the door. What. The. Heck. How much more needs to be unveiled?!

Posted by Good job
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 23, 2017 at 2:58 pm

This story is exactly what local journalism should be. Don't just reiterate press releases. Dig in and investigate and shed light on the problems.

Posted by Humble observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2017 at 3:35 pm

"Although the program's outlook was bleak by November -- and the district's attempt to have Google pay for the half-million-dollar program had fallen flat, as detailed in last week's story in the Voice -- the district's board of trustees was barely informed. . . Around the same time that district officials were saying that morale was at an all-time low and parent opposition was bubbling over, Superintendent Rudolph's update. . .told board members that "our teachers have expressed some really strong positives and some opportunities for growth" for Teach to One, and that "the same is true with our parents." The problems finally came to the attention of the board after a group of active Graham parents. . . spent months compiling a list of all the problems and grievances parents had with Teach to One. . . When asked by the Voice why the board, and by extension the community, wasn't better informed about these problems, Rudolph said in an email that "there are always opportunities for improvement when it comes to communication with various groups, and it is an ongoing focus for the district."

Whoa. Is someone writing a textbook about weasely corporate communications?

I have no connection to the immediate issue with the novelty math-teaching experiment reported here, but some of the pronouncements from leading district staff smack of classic corporate-gameplayer-speak. What's next? Boilerplate like "we regret that your experience with the School District has not fully met the high standards we strive for. . ." ?

Posted by former MVWSD parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2017 at 3:45 pm

This is so horrible I don't know whether to think that the reporter is exaggerating (as the Voice tends to use overly-dramatic headlines) or whether to believe that this is the truth uncovered. I fear it's the latter. How in the world can a school district smack in the middle of Silicon Valley repeatedly fail to find an honest, competent, dare I say decent superintendent?! Sleeping with a subordinate, suing the organization you manage because someone was mean to you, and now lying to the school board?! Does it EVER occur to anyone at the district office to let the highly-trained teachers decide how to teach? My children had fabulous math instruction with excellent teachers who are now being ordered to use this ill-conceived junk. Maybe if we had more time for student/teacher interaction (longer school day and longer school year) we would see more learning.

I've always supported parcel taxes in the past but how can I do so now, after the district gave $300,000 that could have been spent on students to a disgruntled superintendent, and now $500,000 that could have been spent far more wisely by teachers for a ill-conceived problem-ridden math program?

Are trustees going out and visiting schools and talking with kids and teachers and asking "how are things going?" Everyone at the district office should be spending at least a couple hours each month on campuses and in classrooms.

Posted by @former MVWSD parent
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 23, 2017 at 6:59 pm

I liked everything in your comment except the slamming of the Voice part. You must realize that no matter the headline (which, this is not a scandalous or exaggerated one at all), the records speak for themselves. The Voice is doing an excellent job telling us, through the Public Records Act (i.e. Through emails and previously private communications that are now known to us) what's actually up in MVWSD. Without Kevin and Alan we wouldn't know this. No crazy headlines needed here! Just crazy facts, sadly.

Otherwise, +1 to your comment.

Posted by Glad this is coming to light
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2017 at 8:09 pm

I am really pleased that the Voice is doing some fine reporting here and getting the facts out.

The more the Voice does this good reporting, the more we see that the school district rushed things, didn't properly test the product, arguably withheld information from the board, wasted a half million of tax payer money, and tried to put a big positive spin on bad facts.

If the board keeps Rudolph around, you will know they are simply willing to settle for mediocrity, waste and possibly deceit. And that shouldn't be allowed to stand. Remember that when the next election rolls around.

Posted by Board Responsibility
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2017 at 9:44 pm

Replacing Ayinde (if it can be done) only solves half of the problem. The Board must take some responsibility as well for allowing this debacle on their watch.

Ellen Wheeler in particular needs to take some responsibility. She was Board President during the time period during which the TTO program was approved. What real oversight has she provided over this superintendent (or for that matter any of the others)? The board president holds real power in terms of selecting which agenda items are selected for discussion in meetings.

The Board president also meets regularly with the superintendent. Unfortunately, this seems to lead to the them becoming best buddies with the superintendent as is often apparent at Board meetings. (Just watch Ellen's behavior towards Ayinde. And José Gutiérrez watch out; you are starting to fawn over him as well.)

So while it is now clear, thanks to Kevin and the Voice, that many things were hidden from the Board, many things developed in plain sight. How is it possible that red flags didn't go off when TTO appeared as a $521,000 line item in the budget? How is it possible that the board could allow a "pilot" to mean rolling out a new math curriculum for ALL 6th graders? How could they let such a new curriculum be introduced without proper vetting?

People need to reach out to all board members now to let them know they will be held accountable for their actions. And they need to remember come election time who abdicated their responsibilities.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2017 at 10:48 pm

We deserve better.
He needs to go.

Posted by Teachers make the best teachers
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2017 at 8:27 am

The bigger story not discussed here is that the board made the decision to use a computer program to teach our kids. Teachers respond to emotions, insecurities of knowledge and the human learner much better than any computer program ever can. I hope that the board will remember this important lesson and trust the professionals they have hired to do the hard work of education should a similar issue arise in the future. Teachers, not machines, make the best educators.

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 8:52 am

Well done reporting this story. And thank you to the school district for correcting course.

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 9:43 am

Some really good and objective reporting by the Voice here. What a nice change from other issues!

That said, its very sad and disappointing to read this story. Ayinde's ineptitude and arrogance really comes through. He needs to step down now to save what little face he has left (without severance) and the Board needs to hire a real superintendent with real experience. Unfortunately it may take a bit more turnover on the Board before they do so.

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 24, 2017 at 10:12 am

Folks, Contracts are contracts. Removing Dr. Rudolph would come with a cost, similar to the cost of removing Supt. Goldman that many complain about. If we want Innovation, we have to be willing to accept some risk. TTO was included in all of the required approvals before the start of school. When the problems became apparent, the choices would have been: Try it Anyway, OR start school with not enough math resources.

Once it had failed, it was discontinued. We can argue forever about the speed and transparency of that action. However, those who think the action could have been faster -- Consider running for school board. Local government is not a start-up. One reason our Supt search ended with the hiring of Dr. Rudolph, is likely that "real supt's with real experience" were not really interested in working for such a dysfunctional school board.

Posted by @ Old Steve
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 24, 2017 at 11:16 am

You say "When the problems became apparent, the choices would have been: Try it Anyway, OR start school with not enough math resources."


Option (c): Continue what was working. *Let the teachers teach what they did the year prior*. I have many, many qualms about MVWSD. But one thing my children actually learned okay was math. Let the teachers teach. Your statement was incorrect.

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 24, 2017 at 11:59 am

Did we consider how hiring decisions for the school year in math faculty were made in conjunction with TTO. I thought since TTO would be part of instruction, fewer instructors would be needed. I thought I read that in the original reporting of the parents concerns. If you are correct, I apologize for the oversight on my part. If I am correct, I'd suggest less use of all caps next time.

Posted by MV Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm

I think it is time for NBC to investigate what is going on with our school district!!

Posted by Shame on the Board
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 24, 2017 at 2:06 pm

The Board has a responsibility in this. If they want to know what is really going on in the schools, they should visit the classrooms, have lunch with the teachers, and talk to the parents and the students in-person. Shame on you for being ignorant of the problems and concerns. At the site level, people have been expressing serious concerns about TTO since last spring. If you had walked into a TTO room this year, you would have seen some of the problems immediately. The superintendent is your employee. Question your employee, check up on your employee, and engage with his subordinates and customers. Get out of the boardroom and off your emails and start talking to the people you represent! Jose, Laura, Ellen, Tamara, and Greg visit one or two schools a month. Meet the people you represent and see the programs and policies you approve!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 24, 2017 at 3:11 pm

I will vote YES for the new parcel tax because regardless of everything else, effectively cutting funding for the students in the school district is not going improve anything for the students. There are other ways to provide feedback/lodge complaints/demand change other than reducing funding for students' education.

Posted by former MVWSD parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Let me restate, *in the past* the Voice has used somewhat leading headlines.

My initial reaction to this story is I feel stunned that we are actually finding out what happens inside the walls of the district office. The strategic plan and vision statements such as "Every student, family, staff and community member is engaged and committed to learning in a collaborative, diverse and innovative partnership" and claims of integrity, transparency, etc do not describe my years of experience at district-level meetings.

Instead of "Education for the World Ahead" I'd love to see "Teachers Make the Best Teachers" as MVWSD's slogan.

@Teaches make the best teachers, @Common Sense, and @Shame on the nailed it. I could not agree more.

Posted by timetrip
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2017 at 10:42 pm

It seems that the board members could not add 2 and 2.

Posted by Xyz
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 25, 2017 at 8:27 am

Thank you for in depth reporting.
This is really upsetting. In October, my kid's 6th grader friend complained to me about the math on Critterden and that was the first time we considered private school for next year when our kid is 6th grade. I guess that is one way to reduce achievement gap - pull out stronger kids.

One thing that stood up here for me is that the start up is from "the East". I know the East is wide, and based on reporting all communication was initiated by the "consultant", the official emails are not the only possible means of communication. We should look into recovering the money wasted and consider extending school year to make up the lost learning.

Posted by @xyz
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 25, 2017 at 10:27 am

Complete honest advice? If you felt inclined to go private just from hearing about some dissatisfaction about one subject, I'd go private for next year. You'd need to apply now though as schools fill up so quickly around here. One thing I'd recommend is volunteering on campus for one day- you'll get a really good feeling of what it's really like in one afternoon (imo) and will be able to make a decision. (Ask your son too!).
- from one mom of a 5th grader to another :)

Posted by What Else is Ayinde Hiding?
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 26, 2017 at 8:22 pm

All of these issues and not a word from Ayinde to the Board? There's no way he can be trusted. Get rid of him now before the next disaster!

Posted by Contrast Cathy Baur and Ayinde Rudolph
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 5:52 pm

It's clear from what Kevin has written (see below) that Cathy Baur was fully engaged trying to make the best of the situation. Where was Ayinde in all of this?

Oh that's right, he was busy telling the Board how well things were going!
From the Superintendent’s Weekly Update (November 18, 2016): Web Link (also quoted in the article above):

"... our teachers have expressed some really strong positives and some opportunities for growth with the program. The same is true with our parents."

Contrast that with Cathy Baur! From the article:

Baur, who frequently dealt with multiple parent and teacher problems at any given time, expressed frustration throughout the four months the district was using Teach to One, as well as skepticism that the program could continue, given the constant barrage of complaints and problems. Requests by parents to have their children pulled from Teach to One began rolling in by October, around the same time the honeymoon period for Teach to One was clearly over.

"I think morale is pretty low here across the board and if we can't get things rolling in a positive direction for more than a day or two I am not sure what is going to happen," Baur said in an email.Here's one example from the article above:

By Nov. 30, Baur told New Classrooms staff point-blank that Teach to One likely could not continue.

"I am continuing to face growing frustration and anger from an ever-growing group of parents from Graham, and I do not think we can sustain TTO in its current form for the remainder of the school year," she wrote. "At this point I foresee something ugly happening including bad press, article (sic), parents at board meetings etc."

Posted by @ Contrast
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 27, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Well, to be fair that was Ayinde _to the public_ and Cathy _in private emails_ that were just unearthed via the Public Records Act.

Neither were being honest in any public communication at all.

Ayinde may have just been falsely positive even in private.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Posted by Contrast Cathy Baur and Ayinde Rudolph
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:26 pm

@@ Contrast Cathy Baur and Ayinde Rudolph

The contrast I am trying to draw is that while Cathy was actively trying to make the situation better and was involved and engaged in trying to make things work for the kids, Ayinde was missing in action. You would think with things getting that bad that there would be a heated email exchange or two between New Classrooms and Ayinde.

Instead he pretended that everything was going well and gave in to every demand that New Classrooms made.

$350,000 for "services" -- no problem, Google will pick up the tab.

No other school district has paid this much. Just search the web and you can find details of what other districts have paid.

Oops, Google won't pay for it -- no problem MVWSD will pay.

And yes, Cathy was restricted in what she could say in public (probably by Ayinde). But you can tell from the article that she was working incredibly hard under really difficult circumstances to make things work for the kids of our school district.

Posted by Me again @ Contrast
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:37 pm

That's true. I imagine working under him, trying to fix his major mistakes, is not only daunting but incredibly draining and in opposition to what one is nkrmally doing in her job: helping students learn and grow.

I imagined there were emails not yet unearthed between Ayinde and New Classrooms that would say similar things, but now that you point it out, you're right- his are all about getting google to pay and pressuring other companies to take the bill if they don't. Classic bully behavior. Meanwhile, students suffer and Cathy is in charge...

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 28, 2017 at 12:14 am

Gary is a registered user.

A contract with "New Classrooms" was placed on the December 8 post-election transition School Board meeting agenda (consent calendar) for "ratification." That indicates there was already a contract and perhaps payments pursuant to the contract. The Superintendent has scheduled for February 28 a special Board meeting cobsisting of a closed session concerning one potential lawsuit (by or against the District). It could be the matter of the failed math program. Trustees may meet in such a closed session to talk to legal counsel but, I would think, not to vote to settle a potential lawsuit. Any proposed settlement should appear as an item in open session. No open session is on the February 28 agenda. So, the drama continues to unfold. Meanwhile, the May 2 parcel tax measure is surely doomed. The Board could put it back on the ballot if and when it has cleaned house.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 1, 2017 at 8:07 am

Gary is a registered user.

According to posts on the related Town Sauare story, the Superintendent did use yesterday's special closed session meeting with the school board to obtain approval for a settlement with "New Classrooms." only one of five board members declined to go along. The whole affair deserves further investigation and action. If the authority to discuss "potential litigation" allows a local legislative body to take action in closed session to forestall litigation, what could NOT be decided in such a closed session? How about voting in closed session to sell all of the school sites to raise money to forestall some litigation?

Posted by @ Gary
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Thank you for digging and explaining. Honestly appreciated- I don't understand the minutes and ratifications, etc.

You should work with Kevin (Voice) and Alan (parent) - power trio right there :).

But really, thank you.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 1, 2017 at 3:30 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

The money, regardless of how much, is lost and someone must pay it back, NOT THE TAXPAYER! Have the on staff lawyers file CIVIL SUITS to recover the money. That will be like the OJ trial, the Civil suit is what we will make sure that our CHILDREN is the winners in this mess.

Posted by Piled higher and deeper
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2017 at 7:11 pm

Here's the letter that Ayinde and Jose sent to parents today. It's another attempt to sugarcoat their mistakes and take no real responsibility. They keep piling it higher and deeper.

Initially I was willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt. The more I've seen them in action, the more I've become convinced they're just duplicitous and don't deserve to be in their jobs. Remember that come the next election. It couldn't come fast enough.

Kevin, if you're looking for your next story, here it is. The Big Snow Job.

Dear Parents,

As you know, MVWSD piloted Teach to One, a national technology-blended-learning program, with its sixth-graders this fall. The District returned to its previous program, Eureka Math in January, amid frustration with logistics and technical difficulties, parent requests for more direct teacher instruction and mixed results on student performance data.

District staff, the Board of Trustees and the Superintendent have spent time reviewing this experience. Just as we talk with our students about growth mindset, we learned a lot in this process. While our District is committed to technology-assisted, personalized learning as a way to reach more of our students, there are things we could have done better, especially in respect to communication and involvement of all stakeholders. We’ll make sure to take these lessons to heart as we move forward.

We apologize for any stress that you or your student felt around math this year. Thank you for your support and patience as we innovate for the benefit of all of our students.

Reflections about the Teach to One program.

Teach to One is not as expensive as rumored. Curriculum, whether technology or materials, is expensive, however, it’s been inaccurately reported that District owes $500,000 for TTO. The final licensing cost to the District for Teach to One is $149,000.

Teach to One (TTO) was reviewed and vetted before implemented. After careful consideration and evaluation, the District took research-based, technology-assisted learning and brought it into our classrooms as a way to better tailor instruction to individual students. The District had many meetings, coaching sessions, and visits to other sites that used TTO.

Teach to One did help groups of students achieve. Students enter middle school with a wide range of needs in math. We wanted to be able to better support all students including those who had gaps in their mathematical knowledge and needed intervention to those who needed extension and acceleration. TTO was a good fit for some students.

MVWSD hoped to get some corporate sponsorship for TTO, but sponsorship was not a deciding factor in whether it would go forward this year. MVWSD makes decisions on curriculum based on whether it will help students achieve. TTO appeared to be a good fit, and seeking sponsorship was a responsible and creative way the District could offset its core program costs.

MVWSD tested the waters with a TTO pilot, as is typical in the process of exploring new curriculum, and followed its process for pilots including seeking parent, student and teacher input. MVWSD does not continue a program before it first completes a successful pilot.

District staff members spent a lot of time working with and communicating about TTO. Because teachers were in the classrooms every day implementing TTO, they were the first to see and experience issues. They and the Educational Services Department staff worked tirelessly as a conduit to Teach to One to troubleshoot problems and keep students on track and learning. District Office team members had weekly meetings to discuss TTO, as did District and site administrators and the District math coach. In addition, sites held weekly meetings which included teachers, administrators, and the District math coach. The Educational Services Department staff communicated regularly with parents, and emailed almost a dozen communiques to parents between September to December that highlighted and answered parent questions. While there is always room for improvement in District communications, much work was done to make this program work.

TTO classrooms were closely monitored. Feedback was reflected in the adjustments that were made mid-year to TTO pacing and instruction so that MVWSD could continue to support and improve student learning.

Chromebooks delivery delay complicated the implementation in the first few weeks of school, but did not significantly impact students. Students and teachers had access to Chromebooks from day one. However, these were not the Chromebooks that students currently take home. New Chromebooks were on order early in the summer, but delivery to the District was delayed. Students used District Chromebooks from a cart for the first few weeks of school, which was workable, but not ideal because students couldn’t take them home. Teachers were aware of this and assigned work accordingly.

MVWSD listened to parents. Parent comments and experiences were collected and considered heavily in whether to continue the TTO pilot. We heard from parents who disliked the program, as well as from those who did like it. We were aware of the experience that some student and teacher users were having in the fall, but the District also needed to consider student data (latest results were available in January) and parent and student survey data (in December).

As soon as there was evidence that TTO was not working for the majority of MVWSD sixth-graders, it was discontinued. Typically a year is needed to collect the performance data that shows what effect a program has on learning. We were aware of the experience that some student and teacher users were having, but needed to wait for the latest data results (collected over time) available in January. The District looked at all available data, both qualitative (survey results, comments from parents) and quantitative (district assessments, teacher-generated tests) to make an informed decision about discontinuing TTO mid-year.


José Gutiérrez, Jr.

President, Board of Trustees

Dr. Ayindé Rudolph


Posted by @Piled Higher and Deeper
a resident of Slater
on Mar 2, 2017 at 8:50 am

Re: the March 1 letter from Jose Gutierrez, board president, to the MVWSD parents....

I am very troubled by this statement by Mr. Gutierrez:

"Teach to One is not as expensive as rumored. Curriculum, whether technology or materials, is expensive, however, it’s been inaccurately reported that District owes $500,000 for TTO. The final licensing cost to the District for Teach to One is $149,000."

Was this penned by Kelly Anne Conway? TTO was not "rumored" to cost $500,000. The price in the contract, which Dr. Rudolph appended to a December board agenda, was around $537,000 or thereabouts. So this is not a "rumor," it is a fact. Further, although the district just reached a negotiated settlement that reduced the ultimate cost of TTO to the district, Mr. Gutierrez's statement about the licensing fee is completely misleading. Yes, the ultimate "licensing cost" for TTO is $149,000, pursuant to the settlement. But the TOTAL settlement cost is $276,000. Jose is conveniently telling half of the story and ignoring the additional $122,000 that the district is obliged to pay for TTO. In legal terms, this is called a "material omission" and would be ground for a sanction by a judge. We are not in a courtroom here, but Mr. Gutierrez's omission of the truth is still gravely misleading to parents.

Why is the board behaving like our enemy here, rather than an ally/partner?

Posted by Pete Gelbman
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 2, 2017 at 6:47 pm

The info coming out and the letters from Ayinde/Gutierrez is really depressing. Throughout the entire TTO debacle, it was pretty clear that Ayinde and the board had some competency and transparency issues. Everyone makes mistakes, and once they cancelled TTO, I was willing to give them some room to learn and grow. But with these statements from the President of the Board, it now seems pretty clear the BOD is circling the wagons and protecting themselves, rather than owning up to & correcting any of the real issues.

MVWSD has zero credibility at this point....



Posted by SMH
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2017 at 11:43 pm

It's clear by reading these comments that most of the commenters here know absolutely nothing about school adoption materials, how much they cost, how they're vetted and how they're piloted. Each year, schools try new products. If every time a school fired someone because an adoption or a pilot program didn't work, you'd have no one working in any school anywhere. Texas' text book adoption, for instance tops $50 million and ripples through the country as numerous less affluent districts adopt the Texas works in order to save design costs. This, despite the fact that Texas chooses to leave many important things out of their programs because of cultural preferences.

Further, the folks clamoring on about this program obviously don't have kids in schools. My kid did extremely well on this program and in fact the program enjoyed great success at our Mountain View school. Only one school managed to have difficulties with the program despite it's software flaws. And it's clear that folks who've just popped in and weren't paying attention last year when the program began are just waking up from a winter slumber to come mudslinging here in this nameless, anonymous comment section.

I'm sure we'll see all of you at the next Board meeting to weigh in with all of your educational experience. SMH

Posted by Another MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2017 at 11:49 pm

@Piled Higher and Deeper

Reading is fundamental. Ayinde comments that the Voice and people like you "rumored" that the district would PAY $500,000 for the software, or was "on the hook" to pay this amount, which is, in fact true. All of you have been clamoring on for days now about how the district got taken for this amount when in fact, the District was never on the hook for this amount. Further, the cost of the software is not the $276,000 you note. That cost includes teachers hired by the district to work in classrooms and has little to do with the software itself except that they were hired to support students using the software. These teachers are still on staff and in classrooms doing their thing, which I applaud. Me thinks your phony outrage is a bit contrived and overplayed...particularly since you're complaining about inaccurate information.

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 3, 2017 at 12:53 am

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

@Another MV Resident There should not ever be a need to debate whether information is "accurate" or not. These are public schools, nothing it does, minus personnel and student personal info, needs to be kept from the public. The more the public sees, the more the public will understand and likely support the hardworking, well intentioned education leaders and board members of the district.

One of the simplest fixes is for the community to encourage the board and district to do do more of its business in open meeting (where it's streamed) followed by timely uploading of any related PDFs to the web. Web Link It cost the district nothing to do this, but it gains so much in public trust.

For example, the 2/28 already approved New Classrooms contract hasn't been uploaded online. Ideally, that contract should have been listed on the 2/28 agenda, printed for open session, handed out to anyone present, voted on, and then uploaded to the district website as an addendum or attachment to the next 3/02 board meeting's agenda if it was to go for a second consent agenda vote.

Fixing transparency issues won't fix the more complicated instructional issues regarding post-TTO math, but it does remove one problem, thereby allowing the district to focus its energies on the students.

Posted by Another MV Parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2017 at 1:39 am

I get it. But I disagree. Just as we don't expect our legislators to show us the sausage making in government, I don't expect the district to publicly debate each and every decision they make as educators. I'm not an educator and thus I don't have any business debating these issues in open meetings with them. I expect them to have these debates in closed meetings, come up with great solutions, and present those solutions to us when we're ready to consume them. As a Board, you guys have a closed session where you also debate such issues, do the hard work of weeding out unnecessary options and presenting more polished options to the public. This is what we pay government and school district leaders to do. I'm just not interested in the armchair potshots, particularly by this group, half of which come here to complain and likely rarely ever come to any board meetings, work on any committees or ever do anything other than complain about how everything would be better if they were in charge.

However, just because I disagree with your view of the methods doesn't mean I don't respect your position, and I'm certain it could be used at least in part, to good use in future policy decisions.

Posted by Pete Gelbman
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 3, 2017 at 6:29 am


Interesting. Well, I am a parent of a 6th grader who got nothing but confusion and lost time out of TTO @ Graham. If you track the history on all this, you'll know there were hundreds of affected students and families who were negatively impacted by the TTO program, stemming from the fact that it was incorrectly evaluated and implemented. While I've not been at all BOD meetings, I've been to a few, including last nights, with a focus on agenda item X.A, "Review of Pilot Program Process"... were you there?

MVWSD is just now getting around to realizing that they actually don't have any coherent board policies (BPs) or admin regulations (ARs) that are aligned with California State Board of Education Policies, regarding introduction of new materials/programs. Last night Ayinde presented an overview of a new pilot process which they now plan to implement. It makes sense and is well structured, so this is very good news. What is not good news is that the Superintendent and BOD seem totally unaware that such guidelines already existed at State level, and should have been followed in the first place.

One can simply Google the terms "California Guidelines for Piloting Instructional Materials, and one of the first search results is the following link, which spells out exactly how such things should be done. None of which were actually done during the introduction and adoption of the TTO program:
Web Link

Further, the most obvious and inane fact of this entire TTO debacle came out crystal clearly in last nights board meeting (which parents have pointing ad nauseam in all previous TTO discussions); the TTO program was not by any stretch of the imagination a "pilot program". Describing it as such is nothing short of willful fabrication at this point. When 100% of the district 6th graders are mandated to be in a new program, thats called a curriculum change, not a pilot. There was no limited sample group, no control group, no pre-defined eval time, no pre-established eval criteria, or metrics.... on and on.

During last night's board's review of the piloting process, the tone was: "we sort of really screwed up here and we'll fix it moving forward". In fact president Gutiérrez even commented that he's surprised the district hasn't had larger problems like this earlier, now that it's abundantly clear that MVWSD effectively has no sane process in place for piloting any new materials. That's pretty disturbing, and a very different tone and text than the letter that he & the Superintendent sent out only 1 day before (letter posted in comments above).

It's clear that very non trivial knowledge and experience gaps exist at both the Superintendent and Trustee level. And that collectively, this group seems to have some great difficulty with transparency, and only seem to address issues openly when forced to. Christopher Chiang's guidance that the community should encourage the board & district to be more open - is spot on, IMO.

Moving on... In some total, it seems we (MVWSD parents and community) will have to monitor any introduction of future "pilot" programs very closely to ensure proper vetting occurs. More specifically, the key issue to actively track here is whether they will amend the BP and ARs to include the proper pilot eval procedures that are aligned with CA educational regulations.


Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 4, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Gary is a registered user.

What motivates and informs government officials is not easily monitored or later determined. The state legislature decides for itself what is done and not done in public. Judges do not ordinarily deliberate in public. But here in California we have a few laws - now referenced in the California Constitution - that require state and local agencies to include the public in some decision-making. As to the MV-Whisman School District, members of the public may seek public records and participate in meetings of the school board - except as to matters authorized for consideration in closed session. Agencies subject to open meeting laws often employ managers and have elected or appointed board members who seek to exclude the public from the decision-making process. One way to exclude the public is to have the legislature body discuss and decide matters in closed sessions. The Superintendent and school board of this District convened a closed session on February 28 purportedly to confer with legal counsel about a potential lawsuit against the District. No mention was made that the topic might be the failed math program or paying for it. The school board might have discussed a potential settlement with legal counsel in such a closed session but then voted, after the opportunity for public input, under an open session agenda item on February or later (such as on March 2 when the board met again). Under state law, the Superintendent might have been personally liable for having imported the failed math program without a contract approved by the school board. One can understand why the Superintendent would want to arrange a deal in a closed session. However, I contend the meeting and vote in closed session were not legal under the Ralph M. Brown Act and that the board must "cure or correct" the violation by placing it on the agenda again for reconsideration in open session. I have also requested that the District "cease and desist" its misuse of an exception to the requirement that a matter be voted upon in open session (i.e., CA Government Code section 54956.9). But frankly, with two attorneys on the 5-member school board and this Superintendent running the show, more than requests or even civil suits may be needed. Stay tuned.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 4, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Pete G, you do not know what you are talking about. The District does have a Curriculum Adoption and piloting adopted policy. It is BP 6161.1 This is the policy that guided the adoption of Eureka! Math a few years ago. This is the adopted policy that follows the CSBA's version of the State Department of Educations guidelines.

This is the Board Policy that was not followed by the administration of the MVWSD. PERIOD. It was not closely followed, it was not even loosely followed!

Other small pilots on many aspects of running a school district might be improved. But it is very clear, as investigated and reported by Voice, the curriculum adoption and piloting policy was ignored for TTO, while it was followed by the Math 1-8th grade curriculum materials adoption process of Eureka! Math.

Pete, your ignorance of the detail on this, are not even worth further comment.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 4, 2017 at 1:54 pm

- but that was too harsh Pete - It is good that you have studied the DOE site and read and researched what is suggested. When an adopted Board Policy is ignored by an Administration - by the management, what is the response?

I think your call for increased public/parent diligence of the operations of the MVWSD is well called for. Please send to [email protected] any problems that several of you see. The Board did not get this for TTO. Particularly it did not get parent warnings early in August and September. NADA.

I hope that the teaching staff has not been entirely traumatized by this management/administrative problem. I did my best trying to get information on the existing middle school math program/problems. It seems now, I, a Board Member was purposefully being kept in the dark by the administration!

I truly appreciate Chris Chiang's plea for openers of process - NOT OPACITY. There is a balance, and President Wheeler and now President Gutierrez are obviously in the more OPACITY camp. A shame.

SN is a retired MVWSD Trustee

Posted by @Steve Nelson
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Mr. Nelson, you often have valid points, but your delivery not only distracts from them, but also takes everyone's else's focus away from the very issues you yourself care about. You have every right to post, but please post respectfully, and as a former trustee (a leader of the community), please consider being kind even, especially to parents and residents of our community who take a chance to put their name their post.

Posted by Graham Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2017 at 3:04 pm

@Steve Nelson,

You seem driven to throw Board President Jose Gutierrez under the bus. He has been Board President not even three months and well after previous Board President Ellen Wheeler was at the helm and well before this TTO fiasco came to light. You appear to have been caught equally by surprise on the issue while you were on the Board. From what I have read and seen Trustee Gutierrez is at least willing to step up, recognize and not hide from the problem behind or go on the attack against other current or former board members. I certainly don't read about him getting on here an going after YOU. This is a sign of true leadership when times are tough. I have full faith in Trustee Gutierrez to navigate the district out of this mess.

Posted by Pete Gelbman
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 4, 2017 at 7:04 pm

@ SN

No worries, let it rip. I'm all for direct dialog & no need to walk on eggshells around me.

Basically, you're correct. I don't know much about the MVWSD BP/ARs, just a layman... But, I did read BP6161.1 numerous times... the most meaningful part seems to be it's refs to CA ECs 60200/60210 which do spell out guidelines for adopting new materials. In my very non expert view, that text seems pretty high level. The CA SBE Policy #01-05 (Web Link that I linked to in my previous post, spells out much more details regarding pilots. (BTW, another parent much smarter and more invested than myself pointed this stuff out to me). I'm not sure how the CA "policies" pertain to BP/AP and state ECs.. (Steve, can you help me understand that? Sorry for my ignorance and I've burnt up enough time today on this... will dig deeper later to try to understand more... )

In last week's Board meeting the "new pilot process" that Ayinde presented contained very basic points that any sane pilot program would follow, and the discussion among Trustee's around BP/AR was very vague/shallow, but there was discussion around the need to have BR or ARs updated to include the information Ayinde was presenting.

In any case, I think we can all agree that none of these guidelines were followed in the TTO situation... On whether existing BP or ARs need further amended/clarified, I'll defer to the experts.



Posted by Common Thread -- Ellen Wheeler
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2017 at 4:16 pm

What is the common thread in the disastrous missteps in our district?

Ellen Wheeler

She has been on the board throughout all of them and led the board during the TTO rollout. Yes, Ayinde needs to go, but so does Trustee Wheeler.

She is a nice enough person and shows up at all sorts of community events. I have nothing against her personally, but on the board she has been asleep at the wheel for much too long.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2017 at 8:31 am

sorry Peter, sometimes I get into "Senator Elizabeth Warren" mode
Your basic understanding is right. (your link is to a bit-old document) There are very common ways to do Curriculum trial pilots and rollouts. The Ed Code requires a much more stringent process, when the materials have not already been adopted by the state. Erika! Math, although very good and developed by score of NY teachers and curriculum specialists - did not make the 2014 CDE list of state approved curricula. [link CDE 2014 math curriculum adoptions]
Web Link (short list of math curricula)
Web Link (general 'non-list' adoptions)

Hence- the MVWSD two years ago, went through the process described in State law (ED Code) and our own Board Policy (6161.1) to fully vet this new material -THAT TEACHERS had explored and said that they wanted as part of pilot programS - testing several curriculumS. THIS WAS NOT A ONE TEST, ONE and ONLY ONE choice driven by the DO.

Jose Gutierrez seems to not recognize - the TTO: Superintendent + DO-pick-ONE process does not pass muster. I find it disturbing - that he says it does. (that Monday letter, 2nd part) The TEACHERS I guess will just have to suffer, for his seemingly unwavering support for Dr. Rudolph's process.

AR's are the management's version of how they are going to implement Board Policy. The AR for 6161.1 (Curriculum) is what needs to be fixed. Rudolph mis-managed this (big time). It does not seem that Rudolph understands or accepts that (based on the Monday letter). The issue of Other Administrative Pilots (say bus routes or maintenance tickets or ...) are much less important than instruction. I hope the Board does not let this be mixed-up-together in an unmanageable mess.

I agree with the Voice Editorial on this matter (3/3/2017)

Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:12 am

Can the wasted funds spent on Teach to One be clawed back?
The so-called trustees should at least make an effort to recoup the money.

Posted by Re: common thread
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:33 am

With all due respect to Ellen Wheeler, I'm amazed at the 51 "likes" to the above comment.

I completely agree!

But I thought I was the only one. She's a nice enough person but I think she's just not effectively used her power within the school board for the last X number of years.

I'm also very confused as to why Greg Coldonado was not chosen to lead the school board. Could it be that he didn't want to? That's my only guess.

Posted by @ Common Thread
a resident of Slater
on Mar 7, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Yes, also glad to see I'm not the only person who thinks that way. Ellen Wheeler helped to select Rudolph and as Board President had primary responsibility to help supervise him.

As the Voice pointed out in their Edirorial: Web Link

When Rudolph was hired in summer 2015, the board acknowledged that he lacked experience in important areas, and to its credit, authorized training to help him succeed in his leadership position. But with this acknowledgment and decision to hire Rudolph, the board should also have understood that oversight of someone with little experience was more important than ever. And that includes vigilance to ensure that policies and best practices that Rudolph may not be familiar with are followed.

Posted by Thank Parents
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Thank parents for helping to bring this to light!

I feel so sorry for the kids and for the poor kids who had to put up with this.

What do you want to bet Ayinde gets another raise this year.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of The Crossings

on Jul 11, 2017 at 1:17 am

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Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Old Mountain View

on Jul 13, 2017 at 5:02 am

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