One of the biggest things we’ve documented about Clear Creek ISD is its transparency – or lack thereof. The Board of Trustees tries to muzzle the one member committed to sharing insights with the public. And it’s clear that CCISD once again wanted to be just as transparent as a steaming bowl of pea soup with its new Safely Reopen CCISD Committee.
If you were lucky enough to have time to watch the May 11, 2020 Board Workshop recording (which was cut off because of “technical difficulties” – were these the same technical difficulties that plagued the busing software in 2019?), you’ll be treated to Elaina “Domino Effect” Polsen, Win “Child Molester Defender” Weber, and the other five Board members who regard us with contempt arguing why the Committee meetings shouldn’t be public.
That’s right, everyone. Contrary to that email sent earlier this week, the administration and the majority of the Board of Trustees didn’t want us to know what was going on in the Committee meetings.
Trustee Scott Bowen asked if the public would be able to view a live stream, since the meetings are being held on Microsoft Teams, CCISD’s videoconferencing platform. That was shot down almost immediately. Then, he asked if the meetings would be recorded and made public. There is a lot of hemming and hawing, until Ms. Polsen says that allowing the public to hear what’s going on would stem a “free flow of thought.” As in, someone might seize upon something that’s said and spread “misinformation.”
Apparently Ms. Polsen has never heard of social media. How is she in charge of communications for the District? She wants to suppress information, then doesn’t realize meetings open to the public (which all CCISD committee meetings are) can still have information leaks.
Of course, Ms. Weber, ever the lawyer, likens the Committee meetings to jury deliberations. She fears a “chilling effect” – a phrase that gets quickly passed around as an excuse to attempt to make this Committee and its meetings entirely private.
When you look at how the Committee was hand-picked without a call for volunteers from the community, you can see why CCISD wanted to keep this as hush-hush as possible. The “chilling effect” they fear is really accountability. (And we know it was hand-picked because, during the first Committee meeting at the 46-minute mark, Dr. Laura DuPont states how happy she is to see so many “familiar faces” on the call.)
But the law wins out
Of course, there’s some law somewhere that says CCISD can’t do this. I’m sure the District dropped a few C-notes on its overpriced law firm to be informed of this. Which is how we ended up with this extremely buried page with the recordings:
So let’s hope that it’s not Trustee Jay Cunningham hitting the record button on these Committee meetings. We know how that turned out with James Collins.
Will this be more lip service?
As we’ve seen time and again, CCISD’s preferred method of dealing with difficult issues, whether it’s school start times, grading standards, or boundary changes, is to create a hand-picked committee of sock puppets, then pretend to take into account community input.
Trust us when we say that there are a lot of parents and students who want the schools to reopen without ridiculous guidelines, like those set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In Texas, we’ve seen the curve flattened, which was the goal of the lock down. Summer camps are being opened on May 31.
What would the point of keeping schools closed be?
It’s always amusing when Dr. Steven Ebell talks about how committees gather public feedback. And then they turn around and either completely ignore public feedback, or Dr. Ebell or another administrator pushes their own agenda, such as in the school start time committee fiasco.
CCISD’s got some low standards
We had a few minutes to listen to some of the first Committee meeting. At the 58:50 mark, Dr. Greg Smith explains the second charge of this Committee:
Consider delivery models of instruction to address the challenges associated with social distancing and the pandemic that will lead to high levels of academic achievement with an understanding that future and potential school calendar disruptions are possible.
And then he continues, “We’re not interested in just getting by. We’re not interested in just maintaining. We are interested in high levels of academic achievement.”
Did he completely sleep through how the Board voted to lower grading standards for the last nine weeks of the 2019-2020 school year, bringing a passing grade from a 70 down to a 60? How, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board voted to make passing social studies and science optional for intermediate school students?
We don’t have a lot of faith in CCISD actually fostering “high levels of academic achievement,” given its track record.