So . . . What About That Trust Issue? Schools & Kids, posted by BoardWatcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 29, 2006 at 12:32 pm
I watched and watched the BoE meeting last night. Gail and Dana are moving ahead with the investigation. And yet, so much energy *not* spent on this important issue, which is shoved in like an agenda afterthought. Anyone else afraid the Board is going to try to sweep this under the rug?
Posted by Pauline, a member of the Juana Briones School community, on Nov 29, 2006 at 1:00 pm
Not as long as Gail is at the helm. Although, maybe you are right, there is a lot of resistance, it is a very distasteful process, and who likes to go down these roads? But, Gail and Dana seem to be honestly committed to the process, so I have hope.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 29, 2006 at 7:40 pm
With Gail Price a part of the investigation team, we can be assured that the BOE will not be able to sweep this under the rug.
Don't forget, what is being looked at is not how things are *now* (because everything has quieted down), but rather what kind of management demeanor has been brought to bear Within PAUSD, and how that demeanor - over time - caused organizational inefficiencies and diseconomies, resulting is a welling-up of action a few months ago.
There is simply no way - in an honest look into PAUSD's inner administrative workings - that the reported chilling management practices put into play by Callan and Cook will escape notice.
Many are thankful that this process is going forward. It's about time that PAUSD's senior executive team be put on notice that PAUSD is not their personal political fiefdom; that PAUSD is about *education*, and not the raw display of power and petty political retribution (exercised by senior administrators) that this district has suffered through for the last few years.
Posted by Beth Stein, a member of the JLS Middle School community, on Nov 30, 2006 at 3:50 am Beth Stein is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
As a teacher for nearly 20 years in the Palo Alto school district, I have enjoyed most of my tenure in the District. I have worked at almost every grade level, and I can say that the most enjoyable part of my work is the contact I have with the kids. I think they are fun and funny, and that everyone of them holds a seed of hope for the future they are inheriting. I have also enjoyed working with the many, many parents, staff, faculty and administrators over the years. The last four years have been very difficult and challenging for me; professionally and personally.
I am glad that some of what has happened over the last few years (and now months) is being looked at from the perspective of restoring trust to an organizaton that can once again can become a happy place to work. One where students and teachers can engage in meaningful productivity and learning.
I have chosen to stay out of the current "trust" dialogue out of fear of retribution and intimidation tactics that have been played out in some awful ways by school adminstrations. I am currently serving in Afghanistan, and on some levels, I feel safer here than I do in PAUSD, especially since I am putting my name at the bottom of this page.
However, I am looking forward to returning to a district that once again becomes an open and honest place to work, where creativity and ideas can be expressed by both staff and administration. Where we can hear each other and get excited about what gifts are exchanged between the students and teachers, administration and principals, and the Board and the Community. In the end, we are all after the same things; the quality education of our children. I know the school board will do the right things. There is where, ultimately, my trust lies.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 30, 2006 at 11:14 am
I applaud Ms. Stein's bravery. I hope that the BoE investigator will have the opportunity to communicate with her about her observations. I hope also that in the event Ms. Callan and her staff are retained after the investigation, the BoE and parents will be particularly vigilant about protecting Ms. Stein from any whiff of retaliation.
Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Nov 30, 2006 at 11:57 am
Beth Stein says: "on some levels, I feel safer here than I do in PAUSD, especially since I am putting my name at the bottom of this page." That she should feel that way (and while in Afghanistan!) should be deeply worrying to any parent with a child in the PAUSD system.
We need to know a lot more about the alledged "retribution and intimidation tactics" being enmployed in our schools. I hope that in its investigation of the 'Trust' issue, the Board will be careful to keep parents (and the rest of the public) fully informed of what they find.
Can we hope that they will?
I fear that any efforts to keep the issue behind closed doors will only let stand the impression that the PAUSD is a disfunctional, poorly run organization. Our children deserve better than that.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 30, 2006 at 12:40 pm
I agree with Simon. I understand that disclosing all precise details might violate personnel law, but we do need to know if the investigator finds a deep failure of trust throughout the district. It seems reasonable to expect, at a minimum, a summary that includes the number of administrators interviewed, the percentage that spoke out to validate the trust issue and the percentage that said it didn't exist. Ms. Callan has come out publicly early on in this debacle to say, in effect, that the trust issue is the work of a few "bad apples" and has been blown out of proportion through irresponsible journalism. The dearth of public support for her and her staff speaks volumes. Ms. Stein's comments are extremely troubling, but only confirm what many parents in the District have observed over the years. The fact that she would fear retribution and speaks out only because she is not here (which is what I understand her to be saying) is horrifying. Joe DiSalvo also spoke up, once his settlement gag order was lifted. Maybe if a few more District teachers and staff of long standing spoke up, the Board members who continue to waffle about how to handle this issue will come to understand what so many of us have realized: the failure of trust is thorough and the responsibility for it lies squarely with Ms. Callan and her staff. For that reason, the public should also be informed whether the investigator recommends removing her (them) so that if the Board votes against that action we know. Transparency is essential.
Posted by Pauline, a member of the Juana Briones School community, on Nov 30, 2006 at 4:39 pm
I completely agree with Natasha's comments. Thanks for a well written commentary. Thanks, also, for the aptly placed reminder of how Ms. Callan characterized the beginning of this chapter in PAUSD as being by a "few bad apples". Kind of telling...
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Dec 1, 2006 at 1:30 pm
Thanks, Pauline. It continues to concern me, even with Gail at the helm of the investigation, that some Board members do not really grasp (a) that there is a real trust issue and that it is not normal for administrators to write a letter like the Management Team did; (b) the ramifications of the Benchmark study. I am worried that even after an investigation the Board will decide 3-2 to keep Ms. Callan even if the investigator reports that the trust issue is huge and pervasive, but I hope I'm wrong. I'm also hearing that some of the Board members are reacting to the Benchmark study with "oh, good! We thought things would be so much worse." When we come out behind all our peers in significant areas (and don't even get me started on the years and years this District has been saddled with the math program that was discredited universally by math professionals at the time it was rammed through -- er, adopted), I really want my representatives to sit up and take notice, not to express relief that it's not horrible.
I hope they will do the right thing on all counts, and not get sidetracked by MI or blinded by their relationship with Senior Staff. I really support and applaud Gail for pulling the heavy oar.