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Mary Frances Callan announces retirement

Original post made by Tyler Hanley, digital editor of Palo Alto Online, on Dec 1, 2006

PA Schools Superintendent Mary Frances Callan informed the school board Friday afternoon that she will retire effective next August. Her exact departure date could be sooner due to accrued vacation and other factors. How should this affect the school board's current process of investigating concerns of the district's principals relating to their working relationship with Callan and other top administrators? How will the that process relate to a search for a new superintendent?

Comments (48)

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Posted by "Now what...?"
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 1, 2006 at 4:37 pm

Ok - so now we have this independent investigation set up to explore the lack of trust issues raised by Palo Alto Schools leadership community, and the lightening rod of that criticism has just announced her "retirement". Where do we go from here? Do we just sweep the issues under the carpet since Mary Frances is resigning? (I mean "retiring"). Or do we go ahead with investigation?


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 1, 2006 at 4:46 pm

We go ahead with the investigation. The investigation is designed to understand how our PAUSD organization works (or doesn't work) effectively. This process is independent of a performance review for the Superintendent. With Ms. Callan's resignation, a cloud over the investigation is lifted. Now it the recommendations will clearly be about improving how our school district is managed. A new superintendent should welcome the good work done by this committee and use it well.


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Posted by gordon
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 1, 2006 at 5:00 pm

I agree. If problems with the current administration were allowed to reach the boiling point in Sept., the damage has already been done. An unbiased consultant could only help the district in the future. Might be good for the school board to have a sense of its own accountability in this.

Now we'll have to wait and see if she gets the Carly Fiorina golden parachute.


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Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2006 at 5:04 pm

Well, what about Cook? I thought she was part of the subject of the investigation as well? The investigation should proceed to cover all who were part of the complaint.

(But it sure does explain the BOE foot dragging - BOE has allowed Callan a graceful exit.)

There should still be a determination of root causes of the original issues, because if there are lack of clear policies, or lack of feedback mechanisms, or poor organizational structure, (or whatever) that allow abusive behaviors to go unchecked, then the issues are not necessarily solved by simply having one person leave.

It sounds like the issues still should be researched, understood, recommendations made. But surely, all alleged behaviors (from whoever)should be investigated to conclusion.

Now, if we had pending resignations or retirements still forthcoming - that might change the nature of the problem - from a personnel problem, to truly an improvement of the district organizational design overall - including setting of org structure, policies, strategic priorities, communication, etc. That could be a very healthy thing for the district as we seem to be flapping in the wind on several big issues.

Are we going to let Camille Townsend hire our next Superintendent? (Mrs. I Prefer Books to Strategic Long Term Technology Funding Plans). Now more than ever we need some scrutiny on the board members, make sure they are sound and reasonable in their decision making process, representing the broader community needs, not operating off predetermined biases or hidden agendas. We need Gail at the helm to make sure this thing proceeds logically and based on sound fact gathering, and transparency for the public.


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Posted by "Now what...?",
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 1, 2006 at 5:21 pm

"Now we'll have to wait and see if she gets the Carly Fiorina golden parachute."

You've got to be kidding! Looks like she's already going to get "sick pay". Thought that was for when you were ill, not sick of the job.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 1, 2006 at 5:41 pm

Board Observer wrote:

"Are we going to let Camille Townsend hire our next Superintendent? (Mrs. I Prefer Books to Strategic Long Term Technology Funding Plans)."

I actually appreciate Camille's position that we shouldn't rush into technology without making sure it actually helps the main mission of PAUSD -- learning, and academic learning in particular. Having technology in a supporting role is one thing, but then it doesn't have to be too snazzy or up to date. Having technology with an eye on replacing the textbooks is totally another matter. I might be convinced after someone shows me ONE medium or large scale study where the ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT has been clearly improved by it. All I have seen so far are studies that show evidence of staff and students being happy with having the technology, but with no academic advantage, and more often even with academic disadvantage. Technology is rather expensive and has significant ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs, so such decision should not be taken lightly.

All this makes me not appreciative of calling Camille "Mrs. I prefer books..." Should we now call the Board Observer "Mrs. Full Steam Ahead with Technology and Damn the Costs or Value"? And yes, Camille will have a strong voice in selecting our next superintendent, as will the other 4 board members. They were elected by the public to do (among others) exactly that. You were not.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 1, 2006 at 5:56 pm

Ms. Callan is leaving, her resignation letter glowing with her self-reported achievements. No inkling here that she recognizes or regrets in any way the actions that she has wronged any number of administrators, teachers, parents and children by her cavalier behavior. Her letter reads like a press release. Now she will receive full health benefits for life, the sordid details of her reign will not spoil her future career plans, and the Board gets to see her out graciously without public accountability for how they deal with the ugliness. On first glance it looks kind of like she has won.

But no. We can seek consolation from the fact that she IS leaving, that we are spared the need to wade through a personal investigation focusing on her, that we will have no forcible removal/legal battle/settlement involving a couple of years of severance pay, and best of all, that we can now move forward to reconstruct the District and focus on weeding out the troublesome people who have been allowed to flourish during this period. I say, "Yay!"

We will never know exactly what convinced Ms. Callan to resign. But I like to think it was the combination of individuals standing up and speaking out for truth (Management Team, Gail, Barb, parents, community members, Beth Stein) that made her realize that The Investigation was not going to go away and was not going to end comfortably for her.

This issue has galvanized a great number of citizens to care actively what happens in this District. That a great thing. I hope we can keep up that momentum to list, prioritize and effect positive changes to the District.


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 1, 2006 at 6:20 pm

This is the best we can hope for - the early exit of Ms. Callan and the opportunity to move on. Let's hope our Board of Education demands accountability of staff and finds a great superintendent and gives him/her clear expectations and priorities.


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Posted by Another parent
a resident of Barron Park School
on Dec 1, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Let's look at the legacy of Dr. Callan -

Fear and distrust among the staff
An associate Superintendent with no background in elementary education
A finance/businss asso Superintendent who can't keep more than a handful of facts straight at one time
An HR person with no background in HR.

Time to clean house and start over. MFC staffed the executive suite with toadies, hired for their willingness to play along, not because they are qualified to do their jobs.

The MFC resignation letter exhibits a stunning lack of self-awareness. I can't wait to read Cathy Kroymann's elegy in the Palo Alto Weekly. Good riddance.


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Posted by Tired of the stuff...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2006 at 7:56 pm

whoa- Wolf, calm down a wee bit. Camille has shown absolutely no leadership skills. On the evening the management issue came up, with several of them in attendance, she praised the superintendent for being gracious among other things. What a slap in the face! She also talks incessantly, regales us with tales of one-room schoolhouses (because it is relevant, how?) and is the sitting vice president of a board that took way too long to acknowledge that there might be a problem brewing. She voted against a calendar that might help kids, ignoring the pleas of parents and medical/mental health professionals (PAUSD staff included) to do otherwise.
But I stray: Yes, Gail and Dana should continue with the investigation. This will give the managers a real opportunity to air their issues without fear of retribution and will give the board the added bonus of knowing what characteristics their people value in a leader.


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Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2006 at 8:00 pm

I'm glad wolf is keeping her eye on the main mission of PAUSD and cares so passionately about that.


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Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 1, 2006 at 9:38 pm

WHAT?

"the sordid details of Callan's reign"

Townsend "voted against a calendar that might help kids"

"asso Superintendent who can't keep more than a handful of facts straight at one time"

- Why must those we disagree with be painted in such terms? Callan is not a monarch, the calendar vote was not for or against helping kids, and the Assc. Supt. is not stupid.

Everyone CHILL OUT.

...And by the way, sick leave is a benefit. If you don't get to "cash it out," you have no incentive not to use it up. Teachers who are out, for example, trigger substitutes to be paid. Teachers who stay healthy and accrue sick leave save the district money in the short term, and also pad their pension by some cents per day after retirement for any unused sick leave. (I know MFC isn't a teacher who needs a substitute - just saying it's not so shocking about the sick leave).


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 1, 2006 at 11:34 pm

Mary Frances Callan is leaving PAUSD; that's a good thing for everyone, including MFC. I wish her well. This will be a "perfect schadenfreude moment" for some; not me. MFC's tenure has been hard on PAUSD, and her. I hope we learn a thing or two from this experience. PAUSD now has a chance to shine at ALL levels, and fire on all cylinders.

MFC is not an evil, or bad person; rather, she simply never resonated with personnel in this district in a way that would permit her to lead. She was – from the very beginning - the wrong person for the job she has finally mustered the courage to resign from.

I don't mean to insult MFC when I say that she simply did not have the right package of leadership or negotiating skills to succeed in this environment (PAUSD). There's no doubt that she has formidable skills in certain areas; I hope that she finds an outlet for those skills in a place where they can be appreciated, and where she will perhaps continue to personally grow in new directions that are informed by her natural abilities, rather than putting those abilities in service of the kind of tasks that the PAUSD BOE (that hired her) defined for her, and put her up to. More on this, in a minute.

MFC's "retirement" letter does – as someone else suggested – read like a press release. That's the norm in situations like this. Letters like MFC's are staged to help soften the blow of impending doom, and start the process of cognitive dissonance that we all engage when finding ourselves not succeeding, coming up short, or not meeting expectations.

There were little nuggets of truth in her letter (for instance, about Sacramento, and some other things), accompanied by perceptual biases (that most of us are subject to), and then some downright mistaken notions about the demeanor of her tenure. I'm sure that many will guffaw when they read MFC's words about the "atmosphere of trust" that she helped to establish here. That's what I call "cognitive dissonance writ large". Regarding the latter, either MFC has a wickedly wry sense of humor - or more likely, she's striking out in as diplomatic way as she can, at those (clearly a majority of PAUSD employees) who "called her" on her management style, and would disagree in the strongest way possible with her "trust" claim.

That said, the investigation into structural personnel problems within PAUSD should continue. We owe it to taxpayers, teachers, students, administrators, etc. to make sure we learn from this experience, and create a better educational experience and working environment for everyone who is a part of PAUSD.

There were/are other senior executives that have been a part of establishing the current reign of subtle (sometimes, not so subtle), and chilling intimidation. That problem should be addressed in the conclusions of the current study, with great care taken to protect all administrative (and other) personnel who speak up about problems. Necessary changes in personnel should be made, if it's warranted. I would be surprised of Marilyn Cook survives the investigation unblemished. It's no secret that certain senior administrators are held in low esteem for pushing staff around, and making sure that an institutionalized fear of retribution was permitted to take root in dealings between 25 Churchill and PAUSD personnel.

That someone with MFC's style of management was hired in the first place, and that her particular management style and propensity for a certain kind of negotiation style with district personnel was permitted to take hold, bespeaks of a larger problem - a problem represented by the intentions of the board that hired her in the first place, and the way that that particular BOE perceived itself, relative to solving the then-looming problem of personnel cost.

Mary Frances Callan was hired first and foremost as a kind of "enforcer", someone who would "whip the troops into shape" - letting them know who was boss in salary and assignment negotiations, and in administrative functioning. Essentially, the BOE at that time **passed on its responsibility** to manage this problem in a way that would keep the district "whole". Thus, the enforcer role that MFC took on, with mostly full support of the board, with one exception.

That exception was Gail Price, who after a time began to have her doubts, and soon turned off to the aloofness emanating from 25 Churchill – an aloofness that lead to a growing groundswell of quiet complaint from PAUSD staff. Price' skill as a BOE member was to try to manage this as best she could. She was very patient in the face of what can only be described as overt belligerence toward staff concerns exhibited by BOE members like Kathy Kroynman, who often appeared to be channeling MFC.

It was Kroynman who helped set the stage for Callan's style. A look at past BOE minutes easily corroborate this claim. In fact, frustrated staffers would often mention Callan's and Kroyman's name in the same breath, when complaining about what they perceived as power plays put into effect to muzzle dissent, or dominate negotiation. Recently, with Kroynman gone, one would hear Marylin Cook's name mentioned along with Callan's in the same way.

All that said, what can we say that we've learned from MFC's reign? That is what I trust the current BOE will be mulling over, at least in private, as Brown Act rules permit. This BOE has an opportunity, with Callan's resignation, to do something special for PAUSD – that is, bring its management structure and functioning into the 21st century

It's a little-known fact that the California State Board of Education does NOT require a school district to hire a Superintendent. Is it possible to consider this as an option? Why do we still have administrators, mostly far removed from the "everydayness" of the classroom, dominating the conversation about how curriculum and instruction is deployed. Why don't teachers have a larger say in this? Why don't administrators have a larger say in how programming is carried out? Why haven't we flattened out management structures and chains-of-command at PAUSD?

These questions are asked because administrative practice in public education – even in the best districts – is antiquated. In fact, 'antiquated' is an understatement. The top-down structure of traditional public school district education was best suited for a time when the world moved at a slower pace; when classroom roles for teachers were less broadly defined, and when more efficient management styles and structures had not yet been invented or deployed. Why are we still managing public education with a management style better suited for 1950's corporate America?

Is it possible to begin thinking about entirely new ways of managing PAUSD? Is it possible to consider that the dynamic nature of change, realized in PAUSD classrooms as a reflection of our rapidly changing world culture, can also be considered as we make decisions about how to manage PAUSD?

We had better start thinking about these questions, and thinking about them hard. PAUSD is a high-achieving district, but that achievement comes at a price to staff, especially when forced to operate and function within the confines of management and operational structures and policies that compel incessant end-arounds by staff and administrators, just to get the "job of educating our youth" accomplished. It's time to listen to the professionals who pull the weight of education, day-in, and day-out – i.e. teachers, site administrators, program directors, counselors, etc.

My hope is that following the current investigation we can incorporate new policy into PAUSD management structures. Can we re-invent 25 Churchill? Why not? It's the one last bastion of local educational infrastructure that has remains virtually untouched – in terms of how it operates and is structured.

My hope is that the PAUSD BOE will not simply go the same, tired route that it has gone before and thousands of other school districts across America go when they need a new superintendent. PAUSD has not had the kind of leadership it deserves, going back as far as I've lived in this community, which is quite a while.

I hope the BOE doesn't make the same old phone calls to the same old recruiters to suggest the same old "kind" of administrator that's used to the same old public school administrative structures and functions that have been faithfully deployed for the better part of a century, almost entirely without substantial change. Do we really even need a superintendent? Do we need a top-down administrator in what is supposed to be a 21st century institution?

This circle of administrative dysfunction has caused public education, educators, and students – even in high-achieving districts like PAUSD - to do heroic work-arounds in order to deliver the kind of education that students will need, to function in a world that is orders-of-magnitude more complex that it was just 20 years ago, with even more rapid change soon upon us.

Will the BOE lead on this issue? Is Palo Alto really an innovative community? Is PAUSD really the innovative institution that it touts itself as being? Can PAUSD adapt to changing times? We're about to find out.







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Posted by Examples Please
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 2, 2006 at 5:15 am

Hi RWE,

Since I'm new to your idea of a district without a superintendent, could you please point out some school districts (successful, presumably) which has this model?

Thanks!


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Posted by Tulley
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Dec 2, 2006 at 10:42 am

Just out of curiosity, and to tag onto Exanples Please's last comment, does anyone know if any of the successful districts in the Benchmark study operate without a Superintendant? And if so, do you know what the structure is for managing the districts?

As to Ms Townsend's concern for books, I appreciate that she protective of the school libraries and I, too, place high value books for our children. However, we need to get onboard with a technology program for this district. Perhaps we need a strategic plan for our libraries as well as one for our technology. Then, when Ms. Scigliano is presenting a report about technology, Ms Townsend can then stop thinking about books and start thinking about technology, secure in the knowledge that there is also a strategy in place for protecting books as well.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2006 at 12:43 pm

Tulley, Your question goes right to my point. One can ask, as you have, for successful models of pubic school districts without a superintendent, and then base one's actions toward innovation based on that finding. I ask you: "Is that innovation"?

The fact is, in America, there are few, if any, examples of public school districts that run without a superintendent, with decision-making top-down (relative to the essential management of the organization), that American corporations used in the 1950's.

Here's another question: Why does the State Dept. of Education NOT mandate that a superintendent be hired? Think about that. there the opening to be innovative, to change something, to perhaps hire an administrator with a different charge, or to have a group of administrators run the district. Perhaps we could assign site administrators and teachers to form a management committee, paying members a premium for doing so. That committee would be elected by its own body of members, with citizen and board input. It woudl be accountable, etc. etc.

Here's are some questions for you, and the BOE. Why is a Superintendent of Schools necessary? What *essential* function to education, including the administering of basic services to the district (mostly accomplished by mid-level staff) is delivered by the superiintendent?

There are roughly 1000 superintendents working in California alone. When was the last time anyone saw one of these superintendents working to create inter-district efficiencies, as one example? They don't, and won't. Why? It woudl threaten their jobs.

All said, PAUSD may very well - in fact, probably will - go the route of hiring another superintendent. Look back three superintendents, and tell me if we got our money's worth.

Better yet, ask staff that question. Ask about the incredible management failures of the building program; ask about dissension in the classroom; ask about the frustration of those who pull the weight in the classroom every day having to deal with intransigent senior administrators who march, practically lock-step, to the way things have been done for decades; ask about LEADERSHIP, and how that has ben lacking for a LONG time in this district; ask about having to cover the aloofness and intrasigence of senior management with *extra* work caused by that management; ask about efficiencies in the classroom and site management, and whther any superintendent or associate superintendent has made those functions universally easier.

This is NOT to say that senior administrators are poor performers, or incapable. It's rather to say that the STRUCTURE of management that is deployed (almost automatically, without thinking, out of long-standing tradition) sets public school administrations into a "groove" that leads to problems in the classroom, and beyond. It's not a structure that's set up to drive leadership, nor is it set up to innovate; rather, it's set up to *manage*. In todays and tomorrows world, that's not going to be enough.

Do innovators *who make things happen* (not just 'idea people') look for existing models when they want to jump ahead? Yes, they do. That said, if there are no existing models, they think and deliberate about how to make current systems more functional in ways that are *significantly* better than the way things have worked in the past. That's what I'm asking our BOE to do.

What we (and thousands of other public school districts, nationwide) have been doing for decades is fiddling with classroom "technique" and "curriculum" - changes mostly driven by administrators who are out of touch with what's going on the classroom. There are studies thata show how far out of touch superintendents are from what's going on the classroom. It's no surprise.

Rather than go too far afield, I'll go back to my original challenge to the BOE. Can the BOE find a way to include teacher and administrator inputs that are THE significant weight in who gets hired here as superintendent, or be willing to work with teachers and administrators to invent a structure that would work without having to hire a superintendent?

Certainly, the BOE who hired Callan had their priorities skewed in the wrong direction; that hire was more about "control", and less about "education". I hope we learned from that.

We need to get back to EDUCATION in a BIG way - in a way that meshes with the challenges our teachers and students face, and will face. Can the BOE do that? Is it up to the challenge? Can the BOE innovate to a degree that *makes a difference*, rather than hiring yet another plaiin vanilla administraator who will plug into the same old 100 year old management structure whose functionality has long since been depleted by world events, and the demands of the future. I certainly hope so - our kids, professional teachers, administrators and program directors deserve no less.


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Posted by Cincinnatus
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2006 at 1:46 pm

Palo Alto Superintendent -

Toughest job in the country since Palo Alto is a town in which everyone insists on being "the smartest guy in the room" at all times ...


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Posted by Now what...?
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 2, 2006 at 1:49 pm

RWE
Following your line of reasoning why have CEOs at all? We don't need a leader to obtain input, analyse, evaluate and ultimately establish strategic direction and policy, just a well-meaning committee. And we thought matters were bad under Callan...


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Dec 2, 2006 at 3:21 pm

Now, more than ever, we will need a strong Board President when the vote comes up for the changing of the guard on December 12th.

I hope it is Ms. Price. She has the most experience and history on the Board, isn't afraid to speak her mind, and keeps her eye on the priorities and values of our District, and on what she believes is best for ALL of our kids. I don't know this, I haven't had time to verify it, so if I am wrong, please post it, but I heard she was the sole Board member to not vote for Dr. Callan for Super. What did she see that the yes votes missed? With her at the helm, I would have complete confidence that the selection of our next Super would be done well.

Maybe we should show up and speak at the open forum on Dec 5th and let the Board know how we feel about this. I don't how the Board decides to select the next President, and I would assume that the most experienced Board member who has not yet been President would be the next logical choice, but these are odd times in our district, so I have no idea what could happen.

Any thoughts?


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 2, 2006 at 5:47 pm

The "collaborative management" pitched by RWE strikes me a pie in the sky. I know nothing about the legal requirements, so I take this possibility at its face value (although RWE's reference to the State Board of Ed as having no requirement for a super is a red flag for me -- it wouldn't be the SBE but the ed code that will spell this out).

Anyway, moving on, collaborative non hierarchical management is generally ineffective. It might work for a short time with unique group of people, but it always blows apart rather quickly. Think the French Revolution. Think the Israeli Kibbutz. That is why all management structures have a clear chain of authority -- and of accountability. Don't ask me -- ask any management expert.

Not that I believe for a moment that the principals would even LIKE this idea. Most of them are smart enough to know how bad it will be; most of them know how much they rely on the centralized structure; and most of them know that they are not suitable to run what would in effect be one of seventeen charter schools.

In any case, the board traditionally allowed the administration, teachers, and community to have significant input on the selection of the superintendent. But the final authority rests with the board, as it should. After all, they are elected by the public and both the super and the staff work for THEM. Not the other way around.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2006 at 12:55 am

'Now What', To answer your question, simply compare the *national* results of American public K-12 education (the original idea of which I am a big proponent), with the results of the American corporation - compared to both institutions in the world at large.

You'll find that up until very recently, the American corporation has performed bettter on the whole that our pubic K-12 education system, comparatively, at an international level, by a pretty long shot.

That analysis would lead you to a performance comparison of "people at the top" in both kinds of institution - CEO's of corporations, and public school superintendents. (incidentally, CEO performance, although qualitatively and quantitatively better than public school performance, has also recently faltered - in fact, CEO's are overrated, in general. I've worked with enough of them to know that as a general truth.

Who's supposed to be responsible, and held accountable - collectively - for the performance of K-12 education? Answer: the person at the top of the district, the superintendent. Why don't we see more superintendents fired, outright, in underperforming districts - or in districts like this one where management styles clash with the embedded culture of the institution, and cause dysfunction? Please, 'now what' do the research instead of generating cute analogies that don't work in the real world.

There is a BIG difference between what's happening in those parts of corporate America that are changing the structural nature of management, and K-12 education, which is essentially stuck in post WWII management structures.

With respect, anyone looking at public K-12 education today, in America, who thinks that school systems are being managed properly, as a whole, is missing the big picture.

Back to Palo Alto. Please answer my question about what *essential* functions to education we get from most K-12 district superintendents, including this district. I'm waiting for a substantive answer.

Now, on to 'Wolf', who wants to compare proposed collaborative management structures in education to the French Revolution, or the Israeli Kibbutz. Wolf is talking apples and oranges, feels like a good argument because there's no good movies on HBO ;) , or simply misunderstands my point.

I think it was clear in my comments that those individuals (teachers and administrators) who would collaborate as a board of professionals to manage a district, would be held accountable. The funny (really, not so funny) thing is that most contemporary K-12 school superintendents are NOT held accountable to firm milestones.

Let's get to Wolf's assumptions about management, which seem to favor top-down authority. There's a BIG difference between executing the goals of public education (the overt success of which many recent small minds have tried to reduce to scores on a test), and the goals of a corporation. Corporate goals are far more time constrained, and exist in a *competitive* environement. if the corporation fails to meet its goals, there are clear - often drastic - consequences. No so in public education.

Maybe school principals would not like the idea I proposed. Maybe teachers wouldn't, either. Why not ask them? Also, a collaborative management structure would NOT lead to running "seventeen charter schools".

In the idea I proposed, there would still be a central office - i.e 25 Churchill. Teachers and administrators would be elected by their peers, with board approval, for 2-4 year stints. they would receive a stipend in addition to their salary for filling this role (this would all cost about the same as a superintendent's salary, in toto). The BOE would make sure that *cohesive* and *accountable* milestones were achieved. It would be a working relationship between elected community members, and professional staff that are *going to return to their old positions (for the most part), after a period of time - instead ofo the current practice with Superintendents, who come to a district for 5 years, play politics, start a mandate or three, and then hop to the next opportunity. What I propose would provide more continuity, and more careful execution of plan, rather than the "re-learning" and operating adjustments that this (and other) districts have to go through every five years (or less), as we (they) accommodate the "next" superintendent. The latter position - and its traditional mnandate - is almost a dinosaur, lumbering forward, lockstep in a management system that's in a perpetual grrove of repitition.

By the way, Wolf, please do try to find a single large body of professionals - like American public school teachers - who are managed at the policy level by another body of persons (in this case, BOEs) who are not (or have not been) themselves a member of that profession. There might be one or two, but I can't think of one offhand. Ask around; ask teachers what they think about BOEs, ask administrators. It makes for interesting conversation - and its educational. :)

Teachers, those who are on the front lines of education - in this district, and others - often have their hands tied by senior administrators, BOEs, and public policy wonks that keeps education from happening in the classroom. I'm not going to get into that discussion here any further; rather, I would like to again exhort the PAUSD BOE to consider my and other inputs about what NEW directions management of PAUSD's educational institution might take.

Again, I would like to see a *significant* weight given to teacher and administrative staff inputs in the final decision about who his to be the next Superintendent, if there is one (and there probably will be, as I don't see this BOE taking the leap I've proposed, above).

We have not properly enabled the professionals who do the work of education every day - face-to-face with our children - *every day*. they need to be listened to, and more carefully heeded when it comes to setting curriculum and other standards. Too much attention is paid to splinter groups, and administrators who play politics with our kids.

If we go the route of hiring a superintendent, we need to be looking for a person who is capable of resonating with PAUSD staff culture *as it is*, without trying to put a spin or stamp on it.

PAUSD has a *superb* staff, one of the best in the country. It's been superb often *in spite of* politically motivated superintendents and splinter groups who want to play politics with education. PAUSD's staff *can* be LEAD to greater heights by someone who has the respect of people who do the everyday work of education, rather than someone who forces end-arounds by staff to get the job of educating our children done.

How about looking for a LEADER that understands some of the more salient issues in American public education today, and going forward; who is familiar with the special challenges in a district with a demographic like ours (stress from overachievement, etc.); who might find ways to reach out to other districts to obtain significant inter-district efficiencies and economies; who is not aloof; who is defined by a *broad* range of professional skills (rather than a specific skill needed to solve a current problem); who is looking forward in a way - and has *shown* - that indicates a strong tendency toward *effective, executable* innovation; who understands how to maneuver at the state level; who has *proven* that s/he can LEAD *forward* a group oif high-functioning professionals; who has *proven* that s/he has made the parts of past districts larger than their respective wholes; who considers staff a working group of peers, and encounters them in a way that leads to organizational improvement and mutual discovery etc. etc.

Sure, it's a big job, but we should demand that the BOE come up with no less.



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Posted by curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2006 at 1:02 am

Wolf - I'm curious to know if you are a principal in PAUSD. If not, how can you presume to speak for what "most of them" would or would not like or what they are suitable to run? Also, can you tell us who were the community members, administrators and teachers who provided input to the selection of MFC? Finally, not that anyone could actually tell, but the Superintendent is the only employee who reports to the BoE. The other staff report to the Supe.


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Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2006 at 1:35 pm

Wolf seems to think the technology proposal by Scigliano was technology over books, no matter what the cost. In fact Scigliano was soundly suggesting a long term technology planning process including (but no limited to) inputs from all the site principals to determine the technology strategy, the platform definitions, the way technology should be used as part of the curriculum (not as a stand alone objective, but as an integrated part of the basic curriculum much like an 'immersion' approach!) None of us have any reason to believe that long term stratetic plan would result in 100% computers, forsaking all books.

(In fact the idea that technology is a tradeoff with books - if you have one, you hurt the other??? I wonder why Camille didn't suggest technology is a tradeoff with pencils. Pencils ARE a lot cheaper you know, and much more steeped in tradition... Or a tradeoff with teachers... Its a tradeoff you need to make with something, but what would suggest books??? - this is why you'd need the planning...)

I don't understand the downside that Camille/Wolf fear in creating a long terms strategy.. But in fact Camille/Wolf are too narrowly focused on their personal agenda's to allow a strategic planning process to define the future of PAUSD.

(If you really want to make them mad, ask them how MI fits in to PAUSD strategic priorities, community priorities (formally surveyed in the Bregman Survey of March 2006), PIE Benchmark Study, Measure A priorities, priorities of the principals (SIP plans), etc. In fact, the best argument 'for' you'll hear from them is: its theoretically cost neutral so why should you care?)

I would like to see the next leadership of this district, including the board, the president of the board, and the next Superintendant and the new cabinet, get back to sound management principals starting with a strategic planning process.


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Posted by Another Board Observer
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 3, 2006 at 3:11 pm

The board has a full plate. They will have to elect a president who can manage competing interests of the members, choose who will conduct the management interviews, make decisions about Mandarin and attendance areas, determine a process/person to find a new leader, choose that person, manage all they have to do in terms of usual business, and all before board elections. The new superintendent will look at a lot of sources of information when applying. No one who is looking at the position and is worth having will want the job if the management team has been picked over, pre-determined or dictated in advance of their arrival.

To RWE--don't think the participants here would give any credibility to your comments if they knew who you are.


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 3, 2006 at 4:20 pm

What about an internal candidate for Superintendent? I bet there are some members of the current management team who are highly qualified and could instantly address trust concerns, strategic directions and focus on education rather than control. I hope the BOE looks inward as well as externally for our next superintendent.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 3, 2006 at 8:15 pm

Just couple of quickies since this discussion is not going anywhere (smile)...

To RWE: Keep dreaming. Teachers are not "professionals" in the sense that MDs or JDs are, despite what some may feed you. I will change my opinion the day they will disband their unions, or when we are able to sue them individually for malpractice. Until then...

Want an example of "professionals" without their leader necessarily coming out of the profession? How about engineers? Plumbers? Accountants? In truth, they are not "professionals" either when they work as simple hired hands.

Finally, when you mentioned that "overt success of which many recent small minds have tried to reduce to scores on a test", I assume you meant women since they have smaller brains than men, right? Sexism is not nice, you know.

To "curious": I did not "presume" to know what the principals think. I clearly wrote that "Not that I believe ... that the principals would even like this idea" since I give them credit for being reasonably smart. What I do presume is that you have a reading comprehension problem.

To "Board Observer": I did not pass any judgment about PAUSD technology plan. I found your calling Camille "Mrs. I prefer books...," for no more than expressing concern about maintaining textbooks and reading books, offensive. My calling you "Mrs. Full Steam Ahead with Technology and Damn the Costs or Value" was to ridicule your shallowness and not to pass judgment on PAUSD technology plan. Like with "curious" above, I assume you also experience difficulties with reading comprehension.


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Posted by Water
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2006 at 9:00 pm

Wolf, stop baring your teeth, it is not a good look on you.

Interesting to see who you don't consider to be professionals. I would assume that you would place yourself among the ranks that are worthy of your "professional" status. Please, let us know where one would sign up to get on that list.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2006 at 9:14 pm

To "Another Board Observer": 1) If you only knew. 2) If you only knew what I know; 3) some others do, and 4) you're quite mistaken. btw, nice list of BOE tasks, but this time it's going to be different. This is too big a decision to shuffle to the periphery. Why? Look what we've just been through. You of all people should understand that.

To "Gunn Parent": An excellent idea. PAUSD claims to hire the best, but then looks outside for leadership. In fact, this is also done in other staff hiring scenarios, even outside of senior executives; it's a real contradiction, and puts a hollow ring to the claim that we're hiring the best. Either we are, or we're not. I happen to think that we do hire the best, so why not give one or more of those a shot?

To Wolf: Now that you've shown your absolute disdain for teachers, we all know where you stand. So, why bother?

Oh, heck, I'll give it one more try. :) What plumbing, engineering, or accounting group of professionals have the fundamental details of their everyday work decided by a governing body that has no experience in their respective professions, as you claim, and as teachers do? Name three. I'm waiting. Helloooooooo... Happy trails!

Further, Wolf it appears that you're projecting a personal preference toward men as better than women, as you're the one who brought that up.

Wolfy, you might travel a bit, and see how teachers are viewed in other cultures, especially the cultures with better K-12 results than ours. Your next vacation? Perhaps a little junket with a group of fellow non-believers? It might be educational.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 3, 2006 at 9:30 pm

Sorry. No can do. The list is closed and has a membership of one.

More seriously, the "professional" argument is pulled out when teachers (or anyone else, like firefighters, or nurses, or custodians, or whoever) try to appeal to the wider public for salary increase, or for self policing. Until we clearly define and agree what a "professional" is, this is mostly vacuous discussion. Attributes of "professionalism" go back to middle ages and guilds. Whether such "professionalization" is good or not is another discussion, but it has nothing to do with teachers. Except in labor negotiations (smile).


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Posted by Water
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2006 at 10:21 pm

A guild was a union. It is clearly recorded, documented and known as fact. Some guilds were stronger than others. Guilds had a stronghold on the governmental agencies or royal families because they encompassed the largest portion of the population. It encompassed the population of people that actually made their community work.

When invading nations marched into a city, they were never fully successful in defeating the city if they did not first go for the jugglar (the guilds--unions).

Why is it so disdainful for you to see a group of people advocate for salary increases as a whole body, and not individually as they do in "Corporate America"?

Teachers, police officers, firefighters and whoever else you included, don't get rich off of the backs of the blood, sweat and tears of their clients and the people who work hard under them, like it happens in corporations. There is no merit pay scheme that is successful within these types of groups. There are no bonuses. There is, however, a daily struggle with inflation, driven by "Corporate America". I really don't think that people in the types of "professions" that you mentioned are interested in getting rich quick, just a fair shake.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 3, 2006 at 11:26 pm

I agree with your guild-related facts. But they are not all the facts. For example, guilds also required long period of apprenticeship, and convincing demonstration of mastery, before allowing one to join. They also often kept their ranks artificially low, to maintain higher profits and full employment for their members. So while some attributes are reminiscent of today's unions, other are actually more reminiscent of today's non-unionized free professions that in those days were outside the guilds (and therefore "free").

In any case, I used the historical reference just to point out the deep roots, and the mutations "professionalism" made since then, to illustrate how ill-defined professionalism is nowadays. Nothing more.

I an not disdainful of unions, nor am I a big fan. They have an useful role, but it is much more limited than 40 or 80 years ago. What I don't appreciate is when unions use the "professional" argument to argue salary advantage through comparison with "modern" professionalism that is associated in the public's mind with doctors, lawyers, professional engineers (PEs), etc. I object to it because they tend to point to the superior salaries/income of those professions, but ignore the individual risks (at will employment, no tenure, uncertain job availability, no benefits, personal liability) or the very high barriers to entry (law school and bar exams, etc.)

As to "get rich off of the backs of the blood, sweat and tears of their clients and the people who work hard under them, like it happens in corporations" I'd simply remind you that even most Democrats today shy away from this language. For a good reason. As to your comment that for police, teachers and similar "there is no merit pay... no bonus" I'd say that this is *exactly* one of the problems with unions -- that THEY don't allow it.

But we are straying far and away from the topic at hand. I will not return to it.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2006 at 12:15 am

Hiya Wolfie, it's me, Curious, to whom you wrote the following:

"To "curious": I did not "presume" to know what the principals think. I clearly wrote that "Not that I believe ... that the principals would even like this idea" since I give them credit for being reasonably smart. What I do presume is that you have a reading comprehension problem."

Nice.

However, I was referring to this gem: "Most of them are smart enough to know how bad it will be; most of them know how much they rely on the centralized structure; and most of them know that they are not suitable to run what would in effect be one of seventeen charter schools."

Most of them? Really? How would you know this well enough to write that sentence? You wrote it so authoritatively I thought you might be a principal and had some insight you could share. Reading comprehension isn't *my* problem.

Onward, you do bring up an interesting point. What do pricipals feel they are capable of after 5 years of fear and suppression of innovation and vision? (and before you ask, yes, I have spoken to some principals who feel this way). Maybe they would like something completely different...

And, again, who were the members of the MFC selection committee? You appear to have some familiarity with the traditional process and I was wondering if that's the process they will follow for the next supe. Could you share some info if you have it?

Thanks


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Posted by Another Board Observer
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 4, 2006 at 7:49 am

RWE--Six degrees--first hand experience or hearsay?--same six degrees--about? Did not suggest a search be peripheral. I understand that the "some do" and you have made this personal at a level that isn't rational.

Have internal candidates applied when the last few superintendents were chosen? Certainly those in central administration have been eliminated in these blogs. Does anyone know a district that successfully chose someone, inside or out, without that experience? Would Palo Alto?


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2006 at 1:31 am

'Another Board Observer', It's always funny - amusing even - to see someone try to gain the "rational high ground", as you just did by intimating those who disagree with you are 'irrational'. :) One might even say - not me, of course - that you show a much higher degree of 'personalization' in your comments than most. Are you at 25 Churchill, or a rankled ex-board member, perhaps?

btw, Were internal candidates *ever* encouraged to apply by the BOE that hired MFC, or prior Sups? I doubt it. If not, why not? You claim to have insider insights; please, do tell.

Also, you must be kidding when suggesting that anyone *presently* involved as a subject of the upcoming PAUSD investigative diligence would not apply just because their name is mentioned in this blog. You can't be serious. This blog is most certainly not to blame for the environment *caused* by the very people (senior administrators,some of them) you now try to suggest are victims of this public exercise.

Finally, you talk about "experience", as a prerequisite for hiring a Superintendent. It's already been stated that this BOE will probably not go, or even consider that route - for lots of reasons. One reason is that the idea is still slightly ahead of its time. Time will catch up. Keep watching.

Here's something to chew on, MFC and a few prior Sups had lots of experience; it didn't seem to help a whole lot here. Case closed?

To repeat, senior executive public K-12 administration practices are in a time warp. Do as I suggested when you have some time; go ask teachers and site administrators what they generally think about Superintendents, and whether or not they would be "lost" without them. Educational institutions are not corporations.

Incidentally, isn't the fiasco known as "No Child Left Behind" the brainchild of an ex-Superintendent of Schools in Texas? Gee, who woulda thought. :)


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Posted by Another Board Observer
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 5, 2006 at 7:40 am

RWE--Not 25, rankled, board, or taking this personally. Who is to encourage the applicants--the superintendent(s) you despise or the Board members you don't respect? The question was about these blogs having bashed everyone in central administration, not that they won't apply because of them. Who would feel supported by the community if they believed your comments?

Again the question was has anyone hired and seen success with someone inexperienced? This was your suggestio--just hoped for examples. Board members have said they are looking for the best on a national level. We'll see if the ad says no experience necessary.

Case closed??? Parcel taxes, bonds, budget and textbook battles at the state level, recruiting and hiring, training and support and fund raising, negotiations, benefit costs, board members and their individual agendas--I would say superintendents build on what was given them and take on whatever comes along. No, I'm not forgetting a well educated community, bright children, excellent teachers, dedicated principals etc. School staff can't do it all and that is not to diminish their already amazing abilities.

Do tell? Why is there such rankor about administrators once they hit the central system? After all, they were once teachers like you.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2006 at 11:06 am

'Another Board Observer'. You keep repeating yourself, guessing wrong, and mis-reading what I've said prior. Everything you ask is in prior posts. You're guess about my being a teacher is also wrong. I'm waiting for substantive responses to my queries.

As for taking this personally, everyone who posts here has some personal interest, but you really seem to have a bee in your bonnet. :)


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 5, 2006 at 12:49 pm

I'm happy to read that the investigation team is planning to go forward with its inestigation. I think the information this investigation will provide will be invaluable to the Board and the future senior management and superintendent. I am curious to see who will end up taking the job and what that person reports.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 5, 2006 at 5:15 pm

Responding to few RWE gems:

"Were internal candidates *ever* encouraged to apply by the BOE that hired MFC, or prior Sups? I doubt it. If not, why not?"

Why do you doubt it, if you have no information? Or is it just your engaging personality?

In any case, anybody can apply -- the position is open and posted. I don't think any principal was "encouraged" nor "discouraged" - all we know is that no principal or teacher stepped up. Bob Golton served as interim (and quite excellent) super last time, until Mary Frances was brought in. Why did no internal candidate step up? Perhaps because no one felt qualified? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Then we have: "Here's something to chew on, MFC and a few prior Sups had lots of experience; it didn't seem to help a whole lot here. Case closed?"

Says who? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] Listening to you, one would think nothing happened in PAUSD until you showed up. No BoE bond. No prop A bond. No PAFE/PIE. No slogging through budget cuts. No reopening of Barron Park and Terman. Listening to you, one would believe that all this, and much more, happened by magic and only school-based staff. Yeah, right!

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] (Y)ou end you missive with: "Incidentally, isn't the fiasco known as "No Child Left Behind" the brainchild of an ex-Superintendent of Schools in Texas? Gee, who woulda thought. :)" NCLB was the brainchild of President Bush (of Iraq fame) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (of Chappaquiddick fame). Rod Paige just happened to be the Secretary of Education at the time. [Portoin removed by Palo Alto Online staff]


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Posted by just making an observation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2006 at 5:26 pm

Wow, Wolf, you sure have a rude way of expressing yourself. . . here and on the other threads. Do you talk at people in person this way?


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 5, 2006 at 6:33 pm

Mary Frances did a very good job, in my opinion, of making the tough budget cuts when they had to get done. They were across the board, no (apparent) favoritism, she worked with all staff groups in the district, and didn't lay off any teachers. I feel that was fantastic.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2006 at 6:56 pm

Wolf, Now that PA Online has cleaned up your post, I'll help you better understand some of the things you put up.

Your note about Rod Paige is illuminating. Paige is an ex-Superintendent of Schools running a program that has done more to harm classroom education in most public districts than anything put out by the federal government in quite some time. Looks like Bush found the perfect "administrator". Do you see very many superintendents railing against NCLB? No. (btw, there *are* some districts, mostly poor ones, who profit from this program, but the Bush administration mandate to make it universal is pretty much on a par with that administration's other mandates - they don't work)

As for the various Bond, PAFE/PIE, etc. etc. Do you *really* want to know who is responsible for making all that stuff happen? Answer: Parents and concerned, caring taxpayers. Parents on the PTA, parent (and other) volunteers who participate in foundation fundraisers, parents who encourage people to get out the vote, parents who organize precint by preceint walks, etc. etc. Also, the BOE should take some credit for stating a need, and proposing a way to pay for it, but there was little up front, in your face leadership shown by senior administrators on most of those efforts. They were as involved as their job titles demanded, and that's about it.

I'm still waiting for someone, anyone, to show me what *essential* functions - including management of a school district (including PAUSD) - senior school executives perform that couldn't also be performed by a combined BOE/staff consulate. We're going to begin seeing innovations like this as public schooling becomes more troubled.

The real irony in all this (it's larger than PAUSD's problems) is that the very people who have the power to change things at the district level, and really innovate, don't. What Superintendent is going to work to create inter-district and other efficiencies that could cost their position? Not many, if any.




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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2006 at 7:10 pm

Anonymous, what you state about giving MFC credit for "saving teacher jobs" is not quite accurate. There were some staff cuts in administration, with some task shifting as a result. Mid-line staffers do the bulk of the work at 25 Churchill, so they too the brunt of the burden, not the senior executives. (btw, the senior execs *do* work, and they work hard, but the *structure* and *demeanor* of management here is *so skewed* toward top-down directive, that significant inefficiencies and diseconomies result - we'll see more evidence of this as the investigation unfolds...another thing, there are those at 25 Churchill that do an otherwise fine job. There are just 3-4 positions that the investigation will probably end up focusing on, and catalysts for our current troubles).

Back to the staff cuts: after MFC realized that she and some of her staff weren't going to ba able to bully teachers in this district (which she mightily tried to do early on - read my prior posts on other threads); after she realized that parents would not stand for tactical cuts in instruction, only then did she decide to "save" teacher jobs. It was mostly a political move, meant to shore up her support among teachers who had been VERY turned off to her first efforts to show teacher's union representatives that she was boss, and they were losers (almost literally, btw - -ask around).

Overall, hiring MFC (as stated prior) was done to "control" teaching costs. Her hire was made by a Board that wanted a "heavy" to take on the job of being "tough". It didn't work.

So, now, I'm hopeful that the BOE, in its wisdom, will look for a candidate with all the qualities I've mentioned before.

here's what the BOE shuold be looking for:
"How about looking for a LEADER that understands some of the more salient issues in American public education today, and going forward; who is familiar with the special challenges in a district with a demographic like ours (stress from overachievement, etc.); who might find ways to reach out to other districts to obtain significant inter-district efficiencies and economies; who is not aloof; who is defined by a *broad* range of professional skills (rather than a specific skill needed to solve a current problem); who is looking forward in a way - and has *shown* - that indicates a strong tendency toward *effective, executable* innovation; who understands how to maneuver at the state level; who has *proven* that s/he can LEAD *forward* a group oif high-functioning professionals; who has *proven* that s/he has made the parts of past districts larger than their respective wholes; who considers staff a working group of peers, and encounters them in a way that leads to organizational improvement and mutual discovery etc. etc."


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2006 at 5:51 pm

I love that Wolf said "President Bush of Iraq fame" - because that's the same President Bush of the Strategic Language Initiative, where the federal government is offering billions of dollars for schools who will train kids in the 'strategic' languages of Arabic, Russian Mandarin. (You know, the one PAUSD just got denied?) Funny, how Wolf loves ~that~ great BUSH idea...

(Personally, training my kids to be 'strategically' prepared for the Bush Administration's purposes is not my idea of a great future for my kid.)

Wolf - was it all because BUSH thought it was a good idea, or were you thinking there were any other good reasons for MI for PAUSD? If so, what are they? We're still waiting...


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Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 7, 2006 at 12:51 pm

For the record, look up the results of financing from the Fed level to the States for education, as a result of No Child, and you will find that in the first 2 years Fed Financing went up 50% in k-12 alone...Fact..just look it up in the Fed budgets. While you are looking it up, check and see how much health and human services went up. Oh, and check the average rate of growth for education funding from the feds in the 90s. You will be shocked. IF you can't find the fed budgets, write. I will find the sites for you.

Asking schools to earn their increased federal dollars by achieving standards is fine. Asking teachers to be credentialed is fine. No school, whatsoever, is mandated to follow the NCLB.

Schools only have to do what NCLB says if they want the extra money. In fact, to get federal dollars they don't even have to follow federal guidelines of progress, just standards set by each state for their own schools.

The "blame NCLB" crowd just doesn't like having any oversight in how the fed money is spent. I know of a public school teacher who couldn't continue to teach as a result of NCLB, because she decided not to keep taking the one class per semester required to show she was working toward getting her degree in teaching..the parents were so relieved at this easy way to get rid of her, I hear they kissed the ground when she left.

Called accountability, and standards, as minimal as they are.

Check out the national statistics on rising STAR scores etc in the last 6 years. Coincidence?


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2006 at 6:34 pm

Draw, How many teachers in this district have you queried about NCLB? I've easily talked with two dozen - all think it's a drag on the district.

Here's some reading for you.
Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

and hundreds, if not thousands more...

and, of course, what those who bash teachers (like you do) continue to point out is the tiny fraction of problem teachers, and then paint the entire teaching profession with negative innuendo. In fact, your doing so indicates a very poor grasp of logic by inference, and the misuse of hasty generalization.

Oh, and one more thing. Let's assume your myth for a minute - i.e. that teachers are universally and entirely to blame for poor student performace (really, a laughable treatise). Even if that's the case, where have been the people at the top - the Superintendents - all these years, as K-12 education has run into serious problems. Where are the Superintendent in leading reform? After all, they're supposed to be in charge. They make the big bucks. With relatively few exceptions, where are they?

You need to rethink kyour missive on "accountabilityu". I always thought that accountability was greater, and began at the top.


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Posted by Draw the line
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 9, 2006 at 8:02 am

Umm, RWE, you must have been educated before NCLB. I never even implied that I think credentialed teachers are to blame. I thnk it is just the opposite. I come from a family of teachers, and I KNOW it isn't teachers.

I think NCLB has addressed the culture of education that began 35 years ago of "letting the child lead" and progressing warm bodies who haven't met the minimal standards of their grade so that we end up graduating illiterate adults. Luckily that is changing. THAT change is "from the top", not from the teachers, by the way.

But mainly I have seen that the biggest indicator of child success is the type of parent(s) they have. Those who care, show they value education by providing an environment conducive to a child's doing her homework and attending school well-prepped in all areas, where the kids know their parent(s) expect them to do their best and praise them for their work, and are involved with their child in any educational capacity, do much better than those who have no support at home. I have seen the latter population rise incredibly over the last 30 years. I think parental responsibility is the biggest factor.

What do you have against asking teachers to at least make progress toward being credetialed, let alone credentialed? Apply the same logic to other fields and see what happens. What if, up until 6 years ago, we allowed anyone who wished to practice medicine, and then along came a law that said that if the faxcility they worked for wanted federal tax money, all their employees would have to at least be progressing toward getting their license? The Feds don't even define what that means, it would be up to the States to define it.Would you be saying it was bad? After all, most of the people would probably have been fine to treat a lot of illnesses. It would just be a few "tiny fraction of problem doctors" that would be the problem!

Please read your insulting sarcasm and absorb it.


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Posted by Draw the line
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 9, 2006 at 8:12 am

Oh, by the way RWE, as for your comment that the teachers think NCLB is a drag on the District..of course, anything that requires accountability is a drag. Too bad we can't just treat patients without any paper work or accountability, and get paid blindly by insurance companies or the government. It is a drag for all of us in healthcare also, and we also kick and scream everytime we are required to cross another T or dot another I.

But, like I said before, it is a CHOICE of any school district to decide if it is worth the "reward" in effort to jump through the NCLB hoops or not. Doctors who don't want the "drag" establish practices where they simply don't accept any insurance or government money. Their patients go to them and pay cash. Eliminates a lot of drag. In the educational world, this is the equivalent of a private school. However, in the public school realm, not complying just means giving up fed money.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2006 at 12:44 am

All NCLB discussions and personal attacks aside, does anyone know how much MFC's retirement is going to cost? I have read that her current salary is $254,000 per year, but that she had also signed a three or four year contract, so was it written in her contract thatif she retired she would receive a year's pay or more as well?


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