Thursday, June 4, 2015

Superintendent gets raise & contract extension for getting back to where he started.

The Jackson Public School District Board of Trustees gave Superintendent Dr. Cedric Gray a four-year contract extension and a $5,000 a year pay raise last month.  The board cited a large reduction in failing schools and other factors in support of the pay raise and extension.  However, a review of the school ratings over the past three years shows that JPS fell and the recovered to the level of abysmal performance that was prevalent during Dr. Gray's first year of employment.

The board issued this statement concerning Dr. Gray's employment:

The Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees voted to extend Dr. Gray's contract for four more years. The announcement was made during a special Board meeting held May 19, 2015. The extension was based on District performance and growth and a high performance evaluation.
In the past year, the number of JPS schools rated "F" by the Mississippi Department of Education have decreased from 17 to 8, and the number of discipline incidents compared to this time last year have dropped by 1,000.

"There's been an increase in parent participation in parent-teacher student activities, and Dr. Gray has made a very positive impact on the culture of the District," said Board President Otha Burton. "We are very pleased with his leadership, compassion, drive, and determination to improve the quality of education for our students."

The graduation rate of the District increased from 64 percent to 65.1 percent from the 2012-2013 school year to the 2013-2014 year.

"I am honored and humbled by the Board’s decision to allow me to continue to serve four more years as superintendent of Jackson Public Schools," said Dr. Gray. "Although we are labeled a 'D' district, we are operating with an 'A' mentality, and I am confident we will continue to improve  academic achievement."

Did the Superintendent deserve a pay raise and an extension?  We report, you decide.   Here are the cumulative grades for all schools in JPSD:

2014 Totals:
A: 6 (3 are magnets or honors)
B: 5
C: 21
D: 16
F: 7
D&F: 24

2013 Totals:
A: 4
B: 3
C: 14
D: 18
F: 17
D&F: 35

2012 Totals:
A: 3
B: 5
C: 16
D: 13
F: 10
D&F: 23

But hey, those are "D's" and "F's".  What about just "F's"?

2013: 17
2012: 9

So all JPS has done is get back to the level it was at two years ago.  Such mediocrity is what the school board considers to be the improvement ( by a 7-0 vote) that is worthy of a raise and a four-year contract extension.    However, the picture remained the same for the public school system: a handful of well-performing elementary schools while no regular middle or high schools performed above the level of "C".

 43% of JPS schools are "D" and "F" schools.   45%  of JPS schools performed at the same level in 2012.  77% of the middle schools rated "D" and "F" while 42% of the high schools rated a "D".  65% of the JPS middle and high schools thus rated "D" and "F".  However, this is an improvement as the 2012 school ratings revealed that 82% of JPS middle and high schools were "D" or "F".  So maybe going from 82% to 65% is a "substantial" improvement. 

 However, contrast the performance of the middle and high schools with JPS elementary schools: Only 30% of the elementary schools rated "D" and "F".   A child might get a good start at one of the elementary public schools in Jackson but then is failed by the middle and high schools as he matriculates.  Improvement, indeed.

Here are the cumulative ratings for the three different levels of Jackson public schools and their performance over the previous two years:

Elementary Schools

A: 4 (1 magnet)
B: 5
C:  16
D:  7
F: 4

Improved by one letter grade:  5
Improved by two letter grades: 6
Decreased by one or more letter grades: 0

2013 results
A: 3
B: 3
C: 12
D: 11
F: 8

Improved: 2
Worsened: 10
Worsened by TWO letter grades: 5

2012 results:
A: 3
B: 3
C: 17
D: 8
F: 4

Note: The number of "D" & "F" elementary schools has thus remained the same under Dr. Gray's tenure.  He started with 12 and ended with 11.  The "C's" stayed the same as well: starting with 17 and ending with 16.

Middle Schools

A: 2 (Magnet or honors)
B: 0
C: 1
D: 6

Improved by one grade: 2
Improved by two grades: 1
Decreased by one or more grades: 0

2013 results
A: 1
D: 3
F: 8

Schools increasing: 1
Schools decreasing: 6
Schools stayed the same: 5

2012 results
C: 2
D: 7
F: 2

Note: Make no mistake.  The 2013 ratings were a disaster for JPS middle schools.  The district saw the number of "F" schools quadruple from 2 to 8.  Quadruple.  The 2014 ratings saw in improvement to 3 "F" schools but once again, the middle schools improved almost to the level of where they were when Dr. Gray became Superintendent.    It is true that there are now two "A" rated middle schools.  However, they are magnet or honors program schools.  In other words, the student body is cherry-picked and stocked with higher-performing students.  Those schools better earn "A's". 

High Schools

A: 0
B: 0
C: 4
D: 3
F: 0

Improved: 3
Worsened: 0

2013 results
C: 2
D: 4
F: 1

Schools increasing: 2 (F to D)
Schools decreasing: 0
Stayed the same: 5

2012 results
C: 2
D: 2
F: 3

 There is slight improvement among the high schools as the number of "C" schools doubled from 2 to 4 and there are no failing schools.

What is troubling is the media just accepted this press release and action by the school board without question.   Dr. Gray told the Clarion-Ledger that the reduction of "F" schools from 17 to 8 was substantial and the main reason he deserved an extension.  However, there was no questioning of this claim or examining of the record in the story. Clarion-Ledger reporter (and former Parents Campaign spokeswoman) Kate Royals reported:

 In the past year, the number of JPS schools rated 'F' by the education department have decreased from 17 to eight, and the number of discipline incidents compared to this time last year have dropped by 1,000.
 The rest of the media reported similar coverage.  Just another day in Jackson Public Schools.  Much money is paid, much praise is brayed, while little progress is made.  

Kingfish Note: The statements made to the Clarion-Ledger were more obfuscation by Dr. Gray.  Who can forget this video when he flat-out lied and said JPS had no failing schools two years ago? Earlier post: Ratings, what new ratings?

Then there are the third-grade reading test results.  28% of JPS third-graders failed the test.  Three schools saw nearly half of their students fail the test as well.   Earlier post.    However, these results were not considered or mention when the school board gave Dr. Gray his pay raise.

One further note: The school board voted at the May 19 meeting to reduce evaluations of Dr. Gray's performance from twice to once a year. 

Earlier posts
2013 JPS report cards: Failure IS the option.
2012 report cards: 82% of JPS middle & high schools rate D or F
2011 ratings: Is this what charter school opponents are protecting?
Here is the raw data for each school used for this post. 


Anonymous said...

It probably also helps that MDE has been lowering standards to help increase school/ district grades- and they still are a D.

Anonymous said...

New math!!!! 4 + 4 = 7 or in this case, negative numbers equate to a positive addition (like $5000 per year). Guess 2 negative (school performances and Superintendent) equals a positive (raises).

Anonymous said...

As someone who has taught in JPS, I have no idea how Cedric Gray hasn't been fired or investigated by the government. He has done the following.

1. He has stated that there have been 1,000 less suspensions in JPS than in the previous year. When in reality he has just made it difficult to suspend students. Basically without putting it on paper, he is forcing teachers to tolerate problem students. Eventually teachers get sick of writing kids up, because it's a waste of time.

2. High school students in JPS get a minimum grade of 50 every term. So if a student gets an 85 the first term of the semester and gets a zero the second term of the semester (therefore a 50), and a zero on the semester exam they will pass the semester with a grade of 60, yes 60 is passing (each term is worth 45 percent of the semester grade, and the semester exam is worth 10 percent). I have had coworkers who were told they failed too many students and needed to change some of their grades to passing.

So teachers in JPS have to deal with unruly students who will at the very least get a 50 every term.

Basically Gray is "cooking the books."

Anonymous said...

Cedric Gray is one of many 'entitled' Mississippi residents who will never do anything but hold the State back.

Hall Monitor In Another Life said...

A grade of 60 is now a passing grade? Holy blackboard batman!

Anonymous said...

A superintendent's salary should factor in teacher retention. JPS is losing more teachers now than ever before. Why? Because that magical decrease in discipline issues has meant that teachers are having to put up with more. Where I taught, it was rumored that Dr. Gray was going to get a pay raise based on the "improvement" in discipline. I had a girl go psycho-crazy in class, she fought a couple of kids, even tried to go at the principal. The principal called and asked if the girl could go straight to alternative school and she was told no. We had kids throw desks, threaten us and each other, but nothing happened. This man is getting a pay raise and the teachers are losing their sanity and good health.
Please, people, go to the board meetings and demand change.

Anonymous said...


Gray would probably have failed out of Old Miss, Mississippi State, and Millsaps.

He is a joke. I can't imagine being a 65 or 70 year old African American teaching in JPS who had to deal with the Civil Rights Movement and now see how thing are going on today in Jacksoj today.

I wax pushed and taunted by students, and nothing happened to them. What is a teacher to do when they can't suspend kids who act up and get a automatic 50.

Rumor is that Gray's middle school assistant last year told teachers to tolerate the kids. A student was acting up when she showed up at a school one day. A student was acting up and she basically told the teachers to deal with it. Then the lady confronted the student acting up. The student asked who the f she was, and she then suspended the kid. A lady who preaches tolerating kids who never has to deal with them. The lady now is working on a doctorate at Union apparently. Teachers in JPS had to take a survey by her that appears like someone getting a Associates Degree not a EdD or PhD.

Imagine if a white, Asian, or Latino Anerican was superintendent. They would probably be on Jon Stewart.

Anonymous said...

I saw on TV news tonight that Charles Evers is not happy with Cedric about a parade at Lanier. Cedric may be leaving sooner rather than later.

Disorderly Hallways said...

So; 12:20, you are suggesting that a man who, at one time harbored prostitutes, was involved in illegal activities in another state and who has made a lifetime vocation of ripping of government grants and training programs (CETA, JTPA), is influencing decisions by the JPS School Board?

Anonymous said...

I have worked for this district for 23 years, and sadly, all of the tomfoolery mentioned here is true. Cedric Gray brought a new level of ridiculousness. I have yet to understand why the board keeps hiring upper level administrators that most wouldn't even support as dog catchers or ditch diggers.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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