Saturday, July 7, 2012

Behavior Modification Therapy

When a new puppy peediddles on the carpet, what do you do?  You don't say, "there's a good puppy!", right?  Hopefully you also don't smack it either.  But what you need to do is SOMETHING to alter the course of future events.  Otherwise, young puppy is gonna be thinking, "YeeeeeeHAH, my master doesn't give a rat's hairy tookus if I just lift my leg and let loose on this nice comfy carpet.  And it's oh so absorbent, so I think I will."

Are you with us so far?

Along a similar vein, our school board needs to introduce some form of behavior modification therapy when administration does not produce what is expected.  Like a puppy who pees on the carpet, administration will continue to engage in unacceptable behaviors so long as the board allows it.  Ultimately, of course, it should be Tim Culver that is instituting the behavioral modification therapy (because ONLY Dr. Culver reports to the school board; all others report to the good doctor).  But, if he is unwilling, or unable, it falls on the school board.

In the real world, many people/businesses do something called a "post-mortem" after a decision has been made to evaluate the process and the decision made.  Let's do just that, in abbreviated form, and look back at the decision to raise hockey fees by 275%, when the most any other sport fee was raised was 70% (from $50 to $85; baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and wrestling).

It started with an informational item at the May 14th 2012 school board meeting.  Note that informational items require no action by the board--they just are told what transpired.  In addition, responsibility for establishing athletic fees was delegated to administration years ago (and maybe THAT is a decision to re-consider).
Discussion was had at the May 14, 2012 Board Meeting ( regarding the changes being proposed by the Administration in fees related to students participating in district sponsored sports.  Fee changes were recommended for all sports, however, the fee for participating in hockey is planned to increase 275% from $200 per year to $550 per year. This would bring the SP Hockey fee into line with other districts in the conference, which range from $450 to $800 and last year averaged $644.
Subsequently board members Jill Camber-Davidson and Tom Weber put together a Situation Report to re-visit the athletic fees for 2012-13 at the School Board Meeting of June 11, 2012.  Now, bear in mind, those that present a Situation Report usually do so for a reason.  This Situation Report, an Action item this time, outlined the following recommendations:
RECOMMENDATIONS:Direct administration to research and prepare a report answering questions above and to:
Option 1:  Direct administration to maintain the current $200 hockey fee until further information can be obtained and research completed on a justifiable and appropriate fee adjustment and fee setting procedure.
Option 2:  Propose a modification to policy JN that would include language stating that any fee or fine amount change greater than ‘x’% in a single year be approved by the Board.
Option 3:  Propose that the Board take over the ownership and execution of procedure JN-R and have fees and fines established directly by the Board.
Option 4:  No action on this item
So...clearly a number of options were provided.  This was the meeting at which Athletics Director McClowry provided a long, ramblingly chaotic discussion in an attempt to rationalize his fee increase for hockey.  The problem was that (A) McClowry was obviously unprepared, and (B) the board was given NO hard data to support McClowry's ramblings, and (C) there was no verification of data which would have allowed the board to see that McClowry cherry-picked the data which supported his position.  A more complete analysis and more complete set of hard data would have shown a very different picture than the one McClowry painted.  A lengthy board discussion ensued.  In the end, however, the following motion was made, and you can see how the vote went.

Motion & Voting

hockey fees 4.06 - TO TAKE NO ACTION - (leave fee as in the procedure, but still bring to F[inance Committe] in 2 weeks)

Motion by John Whalen, second by Caren Diedrich.
Final Resolution: Motion Carried
Yea: Caren Diedrich, Mike Krachey, Tom Weber, John Whalen
Nay: Jill Camber Davidson, John Welke
So...ultimately the board decided to take no action, which essentially translated to "go ahead with your fee increase".  It was passive support.  Only board members Camber-Davidson and Welke felt that something else should have happened.  It's not our intent to throw board president Tom Weber under the bus, but we have to ask the question: "why did you support a motion that kept the fee increases when you co-authored the report to re-visit them?"

The next ...actually more of a comment... is for the four board members who supported the motion to leave the fee increases as is:
Your decision to take no action effectively rewarded Mr. McClowry's unacceptable report. (You DO realize that this kind of filtered, oral only information is unacceptable...right?)  This is Behavior Modification Therapy 101.  If you reward the unacceptable behaviors, then they will only continue (and multiply).  You need to get on a long term path to consistently enact consequences to correct (not necessarily punish) inappropriate behaviors.  This is the teachable moment...right?  Didn't we just invest a huge amount of time and money in PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support)?  Did we not learn anything at the board table from this?  You must also see that ultimately these behaviors fall upon the district administrator to correct.  Your role is to make it abundantly clear with Dr. Culver that these behaviors will no longer be tolerated.  Call it tough love; call it whatever you like...but call it.
When administrative student problem behavior is unresponsive to preventive school-wide and classroom-wide procedures, information about the administrator's student’s behavior is used to (a) understand why the problem behavior is occurring (function); 
(b) strengthen more acceptable alternative behaviors (social skills); 
(c) remove antecedents and consequences that trigger and maintain problem behavior, respectively; and 
(d) add antecedents and consequences that trigger and maintain acceptable alternative behaviors.

Sorry to be hard on you, school board, but if this district is ever going to be what it could be, you need to be doing it better than the other guy.  You need to hold administration accountable.  You can trust...but you must verify.   And, perhaps more to the point...if you can't verify the information, you need to revoke the trust.  Do not let the puppy to continue to pee on the carpet...unless you care to spend an awful lot of money on carpet cleaning and replacement.