Las Vegas trip by Armijo High teachers will cost $10,200

By From page A3 | February 08, 2014

FAIRFIELD — It will cost $10,200 for six teachers from Armijo High School to travel and stay in Las Vegas for a three-day Leadership Now conference at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Assistant Principal John Lammon will also attend the April 1-3 event that will cost approximately $1,700 per participant, according to the Fairfield-Suisun School District.

The event’s benefits include “collaborative learning through shared leadership” and “techniques for consensus building, strategic planning and vision development,” Sheila McCabe, director of secondary education for the Fairfield-Suisun School District, stated in her report to school district trustees.

Leadership Now is not offered in California, McCabe said.

Costs include registration, airfare, hotel, ground transportation and meals.

Trustees take up the Las Vegas event, as well as a separate Common Core standards conference scheduled April 29 to May 1 in Glendale, Ariz. at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa, when they meet Thursday.

Four teachers from Armijo High and Assistant Principal Sheila Smith plan to attend the Arizona conference that costs about $1,650 per participant.

Benefits of the Arizona conference include how to make homework matter and new ways of grading that reflect student learning, McCabe said in a report to the school board. The conference is not offered in California, she said.

Anthony Nanfito, who teaches geometry and algebra at Armijo, said instructors were emailed about the conference and that he was among teachers who volunteered to attend the event in Arizona.

“This is unique in that the organization has specific strategies,” he said of the conference.

Ed Ackerman, president of Indiana-based Solution Tree, which puts on both the Arizona and Nevada events, said the Las Vegas site “. . . may not be an intuitive location for an educational conference.”

“It’s not lost on us that people have other ideas about it,” he said of Las Vegas.

The city was selected because of low-price airfare to Las Vegas and the city’s abundance of lodging and conference sites, including Planet Hollywood, that Ackerman said “allows a great venue at a great value.”

Vacaville resident Colleen Britton, who taught school for 25 years and is a critic of Common Core, said she is not familiar with the Arizona or Nevada events but that conferences at vacation sites have a long history in education – particularly for school administrators.

“They treat themselves very well,” Britton said of school officials.

Some conferences are valuable, she said, but many represent old fads in education that are repackaged and aggressively marketed.

“They use the same buzzwords and hype everything,” Britton said.

Ackerman countered that assessment.

“It’s not my been my experience that people take old content and repackage it,” he said. He agreed that the quality of conferences varies – and added of the Solution Tree events: “We all strive to be part of the ones that are better than others.”

Solution Tree is the largest K-12 professional development company for education in North America, he said, and about 32,000 people a year attend its events. Solution Tree events include a June 2-4 institute in Las Vegas that’s dubbed Professional Learning Communities at Work.

Robert Marzano, described by the Fairfield-Suisun district as “one of the nation’s top educational researchers,” is a keynote speaker at the Arizona event and his organization Marzano Research Laboratory is facilitating the conference. Marzano is also a keynote speaker in Las Vegas.

Marzano Research and the Solution Tree are business partners, Ackerman said.

Fairfield-Suisun trustees meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in Board Room No. 108 in the school district offices at 2490 Hilborn Road in Fairfield.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]

Ryan McCarthy


Discussion | 10 comments

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  • The MisterFebruary 08, 2014 - 7:05 am

    Crisis? What crisis?

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  • jus askinFebruary 08, 2014 - 7:18 am

    For 10,000 we can't have solution tree have a seminar here and talk to all of the teachers if it is that valuable?

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 08, 2014 - 7:27 am

    Ms. Britton's sour grapes comments do not surprise me at all. Her anti-Common Core rants were off the charts. I am wondering why video conferencing isn't more prevalent, seems it would be much more efficient?

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 08, 2014 - 7:32 am

    Ms. Britton's sour grapes comments do not surprise me at all. Her rants against Common Core were off the charts. I'm not that familiar with video conferencing, but seems it would be more efficient for events such as this.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 08, 2014 - 7:34 am

    apologies in advance for similar comments...

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  • Teach5thFebruary 08, 2014 - 10:12 am

    I know folks who went to a conference last year. According to them, it was wonderful. They gave a presentation showing us how it might work at our school, and it did appear to be wonderful. Almost a year later, no one is talking about what they learned at the conference since everyone is trying to figure out Common Core. Apparently, another nice vacation for those teachers, but no bang for our taxpayer bucks!

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 08, 2014 - 10:34 am

    I’m not terribly familiar with video conferencing, but wondering if that might be more efficient for these types of conference?

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  • B. ThiemerFebruary 08, 2014 - 11:03 am

    If this 'educational' seminar were held in Bakersfield, would they still go?

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  • MadelineFebruary 08, 2014 - 11:33 am

    Educators are fond of asking everyone "what will you be doing in 5 years". How about they use the same question on themselves and stop the nonsense of changing stradegies every year. They love spending our taxes as an excuse to cover up their own inadequacies. The REAL teachers were those who taught the generations who built this country fromm the WWII vets to the Boomers. They turned out doctors, lawyers and Real engineers who made real buildings. If you really want to see where America stands today take a look at this website I'm posting regarding if education were olympics. Folks we're 7th globally and behind Hungary! What happened to our beautiful country! Please look especially if you have children in school: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/education-olympics-how-do_n_1707968.html

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  • An ObserverFebruary 08, 2014 - 11:29 pm

    Interesting, it begins on April Fools Day. need one say any more.

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