Though the original Brooks family is no longer running Brooks Insurance Agency, the business philosophy of founder Paul Brooks Sr. lives on — and thrives.
“We’re in the business of protecting assets, not selling insurance. Our job is to identify all the assets you have, and develop plans and strategies to protect them,” said Dennis Johnson, the current and one of four presidents in Brooks’ 86-year history.
“The second thing we’re about is making a difference in our community, in the lives of our employees and in our customers. It’s how we’ve always been, and what we’re trying to do today is reinforce it and bring it alive,” Johnson said.
Founded in 1922, Brooks Insurance has been at its current location, 1120 Madison Ave., Toledo, since 1931. In 1998, it purchased the Wells-Bowen Agency, which was founded around 1908.
A grandson of one of the founders of that agency is current Brooks Insurance Vice President Benjamin Brown.
Upon the death of Paul Brooks Sr. in 1966, his son, Bill, became president. William Johnson became president in the mid 1970s, and served until 1983 when his son, Dennis Johnson, became president. William Johnson’s son Paul is company treasurer and heads up the consumer insurance division. He’s been with the company for 15 years.
When Dennis Johnson joined the firm in the early 1970s, Brooks Insurance employed 30 people. Today, it employs 85. The company serves small to medium, privately held businesses and institutions like schools and governments in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. During Johnson’s time as president, the company has expanded its platform of services to include a broad range of business and personal products: from home, auto, health and financial services for consumers to property and casualty, employee benefits, retirement planning and others for business.
Archive for September, 2008
Though the original Brooks family is no longer running Brooks Insurance Agency, the business philosophy of founder Paul Brooks Sr. lives on — and thrives.
The brainchild for the UT Center for Family Business came from those who needed it most: family-owned businesses.
Director Debbe Skutch said family-owned businesses face unique challenges, including succession issues, strategic planning and hiring and training family members.
“You are merging the worlds of business, family and ownership, and they intercept all at once in the family business,” Skutch said.
Bringing family matters into the business can be hard to handle, she said, even though there are good things like the values, history and family businesses tend to be community-committed.
While there is no official tabulation on the number of family-owned businesses in the region, Skutch said there are probably thousands. The center has 122 members, among those, eight are 100 and older. Annual membership is $400.
“About 70 percent do not make it to the second generation,” Skutch said.
The center provides education through forums at least six times per year, along with field trips to family businesses. Another service is Affinity Groups, which are small confidential roundtable discussion groups consisting of no more than 10 participants in similar roles in their family business. These meetings, about once every six weeks, enable each generation, as well as nonfamily managers to share business challenges from the same perspective.
“Our greatest resource is our members, and we provide the venue for them to learn from each other,” she said.
An upcoming event is “The Importance of Boards of Directors in Family Businesses and How they Bring Value.” The event is Oct. 14 from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Toledo Club Belvedere Room.
Members, guests and prospective members will have the opportunity to learn how to use a board of directors to increase, value. This includes identifying relevant financial, ownership and succession issues; creating possible solutions; making decisions about people and processes to implement recommendations; and learning the characteristics of a successful board of directors for family business.
The discussion will be led by Peter Gold, who is a consultant to family businesses on value enhancement methods and strategies and on identifying and implementing succession, transfer and exit options.
“I think it is a great opportunity to network,” said board chairman Ken Kuhlman of becoming a member of the UT Center for Family Business “ … Certain issues we face day in and day out are similar in family businesses.”
Kuhlman said oftentimes people may think those who inherit a family-owned business are lucky and don’t have to work hard. Kuhlman said his dad impressed upon him many times that the business was not a gift and someone could replace him. He said, “If you think you are really important, don’t show up tomorrow.”
For more information about the UT Center for Family Business, call (419) 530-4058 or (419) 530-4425, or go to www.utfamilybusiness.org.
Family and Legacy Giving and Philanthropy (members only)
Oct. 7, 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Toledo Country Club
Featuring Susan Crites Price, vice president of the National Center for Family Philanthropy.
Advisory Boards and Boards of Directors
Oct. 14, 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
The Toledo Club
An interactive, educational exercise on the aspects of advisory boards and board of directors.
Mini-forum (members only)
Oct. 28, 7:30 a.m.
Toledo Club West Point Room
Benchmarking and how banks use your family business financial statements.
Annual Recognition Dinner
Nov. 11, 5 p.m.
UT Health Science Campus Dana Center
Los Angeles singer/songwriter Dave Carducci’s introspective lyrics and “Brit-inspired alt-country” sound force listeners to ask themselves where they’re going and reflect on where they’ve been.
Born and raised in Monroe, Mich., Carducci will return to Monroe and Toledo with one of Music Connection Magazine’s Top Unsigned Artists, Julie Neumark, as part of their Midwest tour.
Neumark, who recently penned a deal with independent label Hyena Records to release her debut album, “Dimestore Halo,” and Carducci are not only focused on individual solo careers, but also perform as a duo.
They are scheduled to perform at 11 p.m. Oct. 3 at Mickey Finn’s Pub, 602 Lagrange St., and at noon Oct. 4 at Café Classics, 29 S. Monroe St., Monroe, Mich.
They plan on performing a mixture of Carducci and Neumark’s individual songs, as well as some songs they wrote together.
Carducci and Neumark met while Carducci was interning at a music management company in Los Angeles. The company was working on putting a band together for Neumark, and Carducci said he was able to “weasel [his] way into the band.”
“I supported Julie on every song, and we got a lot of compliments,” Carducci said.
Carducci and Neumark said it has been great working together.
Neumark, originally from Cincinnati, calls Carducci her “partner in crime” and said she is looking forward to performing with him on the Midwest tour, which in addition to stops in Toledo and Monroe, includes stops in Cincinnati, Illinois and Indiana.
“There’s nothing better than coming to your hometown and playing for an audience who loves you beyond your songs,” Neumark said.
In addition to the tour, the duo is working on a CD.
Carducci said writing with Neumark has been a different experience because before working with her, he mostly wrote his songs alone.
“So many more ideas come out when you write with another person,” Carducci said.
Carducci’s new exploit with Neumark will not take away from his work as a solo artist and promoting self-released 2007 debut album, “Trouble and Debris.”
While Carducci was writing and recording “Trouble and Debris,” his older brother, an up-and-coming opera singer, was killed in a private plane crash.
Carducci said his brother’s death “lit a fire” underneath him and reminded him that “time is limited.”
The first song Carducci wrote after his brother’s death was “Fire and Brimstone,” which addresses feelings of sadness, desperation, anger and abandonment.
‘Fire and Brimstone’ was the quickest song I ever wrote,” Carducci said. “Everything I was feeling came out in that song. It was one of those moments that you hope for as a songwriter.
“The inspiration was there.”
Like “Fire and Brimstone,” many of Carducci’s songs reflect his own personal experiences. Carducci said he believes the more personal a song is, the stronger it is.
People aren’t stupid and they can tell when an artist is truly inspired by something, Carducci said.
“What I try to do is express my own feelings,” Carducci said. “I try to write and perform in a way that will affect people in a positive way.”
It’s that time again. Yard signs are popping up like dandelions; the front page of every news Web site is clogged with even the most insignificant of political incidents, and the presidential candidates have graced the airways long enough to make them familiar faces to my 5-year-old. In light of all this, my son finally asked the question: “Mom, who is that guy?”
“That guy might be our next president,” I replied. “Or that guy. We won’t know until everyone votes.” Now, where do I go from here?
My husband claims that his parents’ voting records were tightly sealed and not to be shared, even with their offspring. In my family, on the other hand, elections were a team sport with all of us cheering on our candidate just as we would the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. So far, we have used our combined family histories and personal preferences to figure out housekeeping, child-rearing, birthdays and holidays. I suppose it is time to apply the same formula in forging our family’s political path.
We have already begun to lay the foundation. Our children have always been dragged along with us on voting day, long lines or not. At some point I did realize, however, that the fanciful mystery I experienced while tagging along with my parents on voting days past has, indeed, passed. The excitement wrought by encapsulating one’s self in the curtained booth by swiftly shifting the all-powerful lever from one side to the other is no more.
Tapping the final button on the touch screen pales greatly in comparison to pulling that big lever one final time and jerking open the mighty curtain to grandly announce to onlookers that your civic duty has been completed. Frankly, I could probably drive my children to an ATM machine at this point and it would leave a more profound impression than the modern-day voting device. As far as they’re concerned, the ATM at least holds the possibility of money being spit out at the end.
I admit that having young children in tow may not always be the most efficient manner of voting. While voting in our most recent gubernatorial race, my last minute decision to change my vote was thwarted by my then 4-year-old’s own last-minute decision to inexplicably bolt across the gym and toward an open door. Somewhat anticlimactically, I quickly left my votes as they were, pushed that final button and bolted off after him.
Still, it is my opinion that physically seeing Mom and Dad vote consistently and with enthusiasm is the best way to create future voters, which is an important parental goal for me and my husband. The part that does not matter to us is who they choose to vote for. That being said, it is difficult to decide where to draw the line that divides the sharing of personal opinion from the insistence of one set of ideals over another.
Don’t get me wrong; I have no intention of hiding or even softening my views when talking politics with my children. I haven’t lived this long and learned this much just to keep my opinions from the people who are meant to benefit from them the most. However, I also know that my influence is only a part of the process that will eventually lead them to decide the kind of eyes with which they wish to view the world.
Although I grew up cheering for the Cleveland Browns, I married a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Circumstances and the realization that the Steelers aren’t quite as evil as I had once imagined have forced a split in my loyalties over the years. My husband and I thought it only fair to split our family’s fan power. We made a deal before our children were born that we would raise any boys as Steelers fans and any girls as Browns fans (important stuff, I know).
Our son does root heartily for the Steelers. Yet, despite our best efforts, he has also gained an affinity for the Philadelphia Eagles. I can only assume that his interest has something to do with the fact that their uniforms are his favorite color, but he likes them nonetheless. And we accept that.
We also accept the fact that our children will likely not always see eye to eye with us politically. Whichever directions my children’s political views turn throughout their lives, I hope I am able to send at least two of my own ideals with them. I hope they always care about, take interest in and participate in the process (regardless of how many yard signs, news stories and political ads they must endure). And I hope that when the votes are counted, they drop their pre-election biases, accept the outcome and support their newly elected leaders.
Shannon Szyperski and her husband Michael are raising two children in Sylvania. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Owens Community College and the Walter E. Terhune Art Gallery will soon have local photography lovers seeing double when they welcome the work of renowned photographer Mary Ellen Mark. Mark’s acclaimed exhibit “Twins” is set to open at the gallery on Sept. 29. In addition, Owens will offer a lecture presentation by the artist on her work at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at the college’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts in room 111.
“Owens Community College’s Walter E. Terhune Art Gallery is proud to welcome such an extremely well-recognized and widely accomplished photographer as Mary Ellen Mark come to Northwest Ohio,” said Wynn Perry, Owens part-time coordinator of the Walter E. Terhune Art Gallery.
Mark, who was born in Philadelphia in 1940, has been noted for her work in the field of documentary photography for more than four decades. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to further her photography in Eastern Europe in 1965. She has contributed work to The New Yorker and has published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.
Mark is perhaps best known for her work for her portraits of Mother Theresa and Indian circuses, as well as her photo essay on runaway children in Seattle, which would become the basis for the Academy Award Nominated film “Streetwise,” which was directed by her husband, filmmaker Martin Bell. More recently, she contributed still photography used in the Brad Pitt film “Babel” in 2006.
The “Twins” exhibit is a collection of photographs taken by Mark at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg. Mark visited the festival twice, once in 2001 and again in 2002, where hundreds of twins were in attendance. The “Twins” project was also made into a book and a short film, which Mark co-produced with her husband in 2004.
“Mark’s work is innovative and realistic. Her pictures capture the essence of humanity and go far beyond conventional borders in capturing the stark reality of life,” Perry said.
In conjunction with the “Twins” exhibit, Owens’ Walter E. Terhune Art Gallery will also serve as host to a panel discussion titled “Mothers of Twins” at 7 p.m. Oct. 8.
For more information, call (567) 661-2787 or visit www.owens.edu.
The University of Toledo’s Urban Affairs Center Press will host a book launch reading in celebration of Nick Muska’s latest poetry collection, “All Cool: Carefully Selected Poems” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Ottawa Tavern.
A native of Lorain, Muska has received a number of honors and distinctions for his work, including the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Individual Artist Fellowship, the Community Impact and Community Achievement awards from the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and the Ohio Governor’s Award for the Arts. For many years, Muska taught in the OAC’s Artists-in-Education program. He also scripted, produced and directed the notable Jack Kerouac reader’s theater production “Back to Jack.” Muska is a graduate of Antioch College.
“Nick Muska’s work is the response to language. The poems included in ‘All Cool’ are poet’s poems; if the reader is well versed in poetry, then I think they will easily be able to find the humor in Muska’s references, though I think the book offers something for everyone,” said Lucas County Poet Laureate Joel Lipman.
It was Lipman, a longtime friend of Muska’s and a professor at the University of Toledo, who helped edit the book with professor Thomas Barden for Urban Affairs Center.
The book marks Muska’s first collection since “Living My Nightlife Out Under the Sun,” which was published by the Toledo Poet’s Center Press in 1987. Other collections of Muska’s work include “Elm: Warehouse Poems 1974-1977.” In 1980, Muska edited “Inside Out: A Collection of Inmate Writing” for the Inmate Arts Press.
Copies of “All Cool” will be available at the reading for $15.The Ottawa Tavern is located at 1817 Adams St. For ordering information, call (419) 530-3591 or visit the Web site http://uac.utoledo.edu/Publications/uac-press/uac-press.htm.
It’s been 13 years since Alanis Morissette raged on “Jagged Little Pill.” With her new disc, “Flavors of Entanglement,” the 34-year-old is mellowing out.
“I like to think that I’ve grown up and that there’s just more a continuation along the journey to [where] home is,” she said during a teleconference. “[I’m] older, I like to think wiser, although I question it in moments.”
Collaborating with British producer Guy Sigsworth who has worked with Björk, was a smart move for Morissette. “Flavors of Entanglement” with its first single “Underneath” hit No. 8 on Billboard’s top 200 album chart.
“I had heard the song ‘Let Go’ by [Sigsworth’s] band Frou Frou with Imogen Heap, and I remember thinking it was technologically so sound, pardon the pun, and really soulful at the same time and that was a rare combination,” Morissette said. “So I took the risk and phoned him and he was up for diving in together, so I flew to London and wrote half the record there with him, and it was an incredible experience. It’s a crap shoot, but it really worked out.”
She credited Sigsworth with bringing new sonic elements to her music — Eastern percussion and electronic beats alongside heavy guitar riffs.
“I think that Guy Sigsworth brought a very technological aspect to the soundscape of this record,” Morissette said. “I’ve always loved hybridizing, whether it’s in the kitchen in food or design in my house or music — I love taking all the different genres of music that I love and squishing them into one moment as best as I can without creating a train wreck, although those are fun, too.”
The native of Ottawa, Ontario, slammed into the spotlight with “You Oughta Know” from 1995’s “Jagged Little Pill,” which spawned monster hits “Ironic,” “Hand in My Pocket,” “You Learn” and “Head Over Feet.” Morissette won four Grammys for the album. In 1999, she took home two more Grammys for “Uninvited,” the ballad she wrote for the movie “City of Angels.”
In 1998, she released “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie,” which included “Thank U,” and four years later hit the charts with “Hands Clean” from “Under Rug Swept.”
Morissette will bring her “Flavors of Entanglement” tour to the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor for a 7:30 p.m. show Oct. 7. Tickets still available are $67.50 and $49.50.
She answered questions for U.S. and Canadian media outlets, including Toledo Free Press, during a teleconference.
Do you feel pressure to match the success of “Jagged Little Pill”?
Morissette: I don’t really feel [pressure] anymore because it’s fantastically impossible to reset that kind of precedent, so I really just continue to write what’s going on in my life, let each record be a snapshot of that time, not unlike a photograph of an era, and then I move on.
What snapshot of your life does “Flavors of Entanglement” capture?
Morissette: It reflected some serious disassemblings in my personal life and it’s sort of far-reaching. It reaches into my professional life. It’s like a breaking or a broken moment captured and then I like to think a phoenix rising. It allowed me to hit rock bottom in a way that I never done before. I’d always sort of bottom dwelled, but I never really bounced off the bottom. The best news of all for me was that there is a bottom because I used to think that emotions were bottomless and if I didn’t calibrate it that I would be eaten whole. So now that I know that when I surrender, there’s a bottom and I can bounce back up, I realize the only thing that there is bottomlessness to is joy, so that’s a pretty big revelation for me.
“Jagged Little Pill” and “You Oughta Know” opened a new kind of confessional songwriting for women. How do you look back on that and its long-term impact?
Morissette: For me it was about reducing shame. So as a woman, I had shame around being powerful. I had shame around being a warrior. I had shame around being angry. I had shame around being vulnerable and devastated and ugly and rejected and all these seemingly shameful things. So for me in art, there’s this no-holds-barred approach when I write a poem or, frankly, even when I write an e-mail sometimes. As soon as I start to write, there’s this uncensored, unedited freedom to step outside of the shackles of some of the thoughts in my head around being ashamed. So if I could offer anything to anyone who would listen to my songs, it would be just a four-minute moment of dropping any shame around being human.
Does it bother you that people still label you as “angry” based on “You Oughta Know”?
Morissette: Well, if I’m going to be one-dimensionalized, it’s an honor to be considered angry because anger has been swept under the carpet so much with regards to women that it’s flattering.
Bobby Vinton keeps bubbling up to the pop culture surface. The singer scored another huge hit in 2005, thanks to a rapper.
Few would recognize Vinton on Akon’s hit, “Lonely.” He sounds like Alvin from the Chipmunks.
“Akon took my record of ‘Mr. Lonely’ and he sped it up and sang rap on top of it, and it was a No. 1 record around the world,” Vinton said from his Florida home. “Because he sped up the record, I thought the speed was wrong on my player — I thought there must be something wrong.
“And they said, no, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I said this is not the way it’s meant to be, and I don’t know if I ought to approve this. And my daughter was in the room when I was listening and she said, ‘Are you kidding? That’s a smash record!’ ”
The 73-year-old also has been celebrated at the movies. Remember 1990’s “Goodfellas”?
“There’s a scene where the mafia goes to the Copacabana, and I’m singing ‘Roses Are Red’ there, which is all true, so ‘Roses Are Red’ resurfaced when the movie ‘Goodfellas’ came out — it was on last night again I saw,” Vinton said. ‘My son [Robbie] was playing me singing at the Copacabana.”
And Vinton’s 1963 classic, “Blue Velvet,” made for an interesting soundtrack in David Lynch’s 1986 movie of the same name.
“When [Lynch] wrote ‘Blue Velvet,’ he was in my dressing room in Las Vegas writing the script, and he was just a fan and he said you have such a pure, simple, innocent sound to your music and ‘Blue Velvet,’ that if I do a movie with weird things going on and perversion and I use your music, it’ll be a contrast and it’ll shock the audience,” Vinton recalled.
He even saddled up and appeared on the big screen alongside the Duke in “Big Jake” in 1971 and “The Train Robbers” in 1973.
“With John Wayne, he was the man we thought he was. Being in the business and knowing so many stars, many of them are disappointing when you get to know them,” Vinton said. “But John Wayne was every bit of John Wayne, morning, noon and night, a real person.”
One gets that feeling while talking to the “Polish Prince,” who was born Stanley Robert Vintula Jr. in Canonsburg, Pa. He cranked out hits during the 1960s — “Blue on Blue,” “There! I’ve Said It Again,” “I Love How You Love Me.”
In 1974, he made his mom happy: “My mother came to me and she said you sing in everybody’s language but your own; you should sing a Polish song and put it in your act. This is when Polish jokes were out and the last thing that anybody mentioned was that they were Polish,” Vinton said.
“So I went against the grain and said I was going to write a song called ‘My Melody of Love’ … I did the song for my mother, not knowing it was going to be a hit song or a No. 1 record,” he said. “At the time, our government was not interested in being too friendly with Poland and having concerns because they didn’t want to upset Russia; there was politics then like there are today.
“And all of sudden, that song, ‘My Melody of Love,’ was a link between the United States and Poland. And that link, I think, I’d like to believe was a spark about that time when the Solidarity movement started.”
Vinton will perform his hits with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Oct. 4 at The Stranahan Theater. Tickets range from $21 to $45. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.toledosymphony.com/orderTickets/
For more about the artist, visit www.bobbyvinton.com.
Denny Schaffer doesn’t know where he’s going.
But the former Toledo radio show host has faith that God knows.
“I’m not the same person I was three years ago,” Schaffer said. “I know I’m different by what God has taught me. God has revealed so much to me during the last three years.”
Schaffer will speak about “Who Am I?” at a fundraising banquet for the YES FM Ministries, Oct. 11, at Calvary Assembly of God, 5025 Glendale Ave. Money raised during the event will help offset unfulfilled pledges made during YES FM’s primary fundraising events, the semi-annual Share-A-Thons.
“Besides raising money, it’s good to bring a lot of our listeners together for a great time of fellowship,” YES FM Underwriting Manager Janet Yonke said. “Denny has been a supporter for a long time and has a lot of friends in the area, so it’s a good fit to have him speak.”
Schaffer said, “Whenever I speak, I don’t always know what I’m going to talk about. I let God guide me. I simply pray about it and feel God will lead me. I chose the topic because I want to show what God has taught me in taking me from Toledo to Atlanta, and where I am three years later.”
Schaffer spent more than 14 years on Toledo radio airwaves. After an early stint at WRQN (1984-85), he hosted the WVKS Breakfast Club morning program (1993-2004). After another two years as the afternoon drive host on WSPD, Schaffer left Toledo’s airwaves for a morning show at Atlanta’s WGST-AM 640 in September 2005. A little more than a year later in November 2006, Schaffer was off the air. He and other on-air personalities at WGST were out of jobs after the station replaced its local show hosts with syndicated programs.
“I took some time after that and asked God what he wanted me to do,” Schaffer said.
He and his wife, Sharon, wanted to stay in Atlanta, but after looking for several months, no radio jobs opened up in the Atlanta market. It was then he decided to launch an Internet radio show and hit the online airwaves in June 2007 at www.DennyRadio.com. His 10 a.m. to noon program was picked up locally by WCWA-AM 1230 April 1.
Schaffer’s show is similar to his WSPD-AM 1370 afternoon program.
“I cover the news and events of the day, but really talk about everything. Life, sports and whatever I feel the Holy Spirit puts in my heart is what I usually go with,” Schaffer said.
With the presidential election heating up, politics naturally are a big part of his show. But, in reality, “I really hate politics,” Schaffer said. “There’s so much hypocrisy. The people involved don’t look out for what’s best for the country. They do what’s best for their party.”
As he was in Toledo, Schaffer is involved in the Atlanta community. He said he has served as emcee for fundraisers and other events, as well as being active with his wife in their church and their children’s school.
While in Toledo, Schaffer said he and his wife listened to and volunteered their time to help support YES FM’s ministries.
During his time in Toledo, Schaffer filled the airwaves with his sometimes brash and always honest commentary. While Schaffer’s loyal Toledo listeners got to know a lot about him during that time, those attending the YES FM banquet may be surprised.
“If you come out to hear me speak, you’ll hear a totally different Denny Schaffer than when I lived in Toledo,” he said.
The doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the YES FM fundraiser, and dinner starts at 6 p.m. The $20 tickets are available online at the YES FM Web site (www.yeshome.com), at the YES FM offices, 5105 Glendale Ave., at the Lifeway Christian Store, 4121 Talmadge Road, or the Family Christian Store, 4015 Secor Road. Deadline to reserve tickets is Oct. 6. For more information, call (419) 389-0893.
A couple of months after the school year ended, Toledo Public Schools got its report card. It got a “C-minus” — just barely.
Superintendent John Foley seemed pleased that TPS made improvements in a number of areas and earned the designation of “continuous improvement” after slipping to academic watch last year.
Foley outlined the positives, including an increase of 1.3 percent in the Performance Index (PI), a reduction in the number of schools in academic emergency and watch by 22 percent, and a more than doubling of schools meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) from eight to 19 schools. He identified schools that excelled, including Elmhurst, the Early College High School and the Toledo Technology Academy, as well as the report card standards TPS attained.
While Foley admitted he was not satisfied, he offered little insight into the problems and challenges facing TPS. He needed to provide a plan that specifically outlines how the board, superintendent and his staff will address the challenges TPS faces, most especially the chronically underperforming schools.
To provide a balanced assessment because TPS refuses to discuss the problems in detail, I looked at current and past TPS report card results.
- 33 percent of TPS students attend a school in academic emergency or watch.
- 14 schools have been in improvement status for five or more years.
- 23 schools have been in improvement status three or more years.
- Five of seven junior high schools have been in improvement status for five or more years.
- 14 of 22 schools in academic emergency and watch had declining scores in 2008 vs. 2007.
- 31 of 62 schools had declining scores in 2008 vs. 2007. The number was unchanged from 2007.
- Six of 62 schools met 75 percent or more of the applicable standards which was unchanged from 2007.
- Thirteen schools met 50 percent or more of the applicable standards, unchanged from 2007.
- Byrnedale Junior High School met 37.5 percent (three of eight standards) of the applicable standards.
- Two other junior high schools met two of eight standards. The other four met only one standard.
- One junior high met AYP requirements.
During the past four years, TPS has seen mixed progress with growth in the PI at 2 percent, 5.1 percent, —1.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. The compounded growth rate has been 1.4 percent. Extrapolating the past growth using the current PI of 80.1, would give TPS a PI of 83.6 in three years.
During the TPS press conference in August, Foley stated his goal for the district was to reach the effective level (90 to 99.9 PI) in three years. To reach a PI of 90 would require a growth rate of 4 percent per year for the next three years. TPS has achieved an increase of 4 percent or more in only one year in the last four. Can it be done? It’s possible. Will it be done? It seems obvious that something will have to change substantively for TPS to reach the designation of effective.
TPS has 14 schools that have been designated in improvement status for five years or more. Last year, TPS finally took action regarding two schools, Pickett and Chase, which have consistently failed to meet improvement requirements — nine years for Pickett. Why did it take so long?
Current and past report cards show a district with inconsistent results from year to year, schools in academic emergency and watch that have declining scores, and many chronically underperforming schools clustered around the central city. In addition, TPS’ middle schools have particularly disturbing results that demand change. Perhaps even more disturbing is that the TPS bureaucracy is adept at seeing only the positive results, downplaying the problems, avoiding responsibility for what they can control by blaming poverty and parents and engaging in public relations instead of substantive action.
School administrators, board members and supporters may categorize these comments as negative. Much to the contrary, problem identification is the first step in a process to develop and implement a plan to address the challenges and identify appropriate benchmarks to monitor progress.
It’s time to shake things up at TPS. Among the options that should be implemented is performance-based pay.
Steven Flagg has been an education advocate for 13 years. Visit the Web site www.tpsinfo.com for more information.