Sunday, April 27, 2014
The truly maddening things about superintendent Vitti
When Superintendent Vitti got to town he was a breath of fresh air. One of the first things he did was go on a listening tour of the city. The last time Ed Pratt Dannals toured the city he told people about the doom and gloom of impending budget cuts and never mentioned the 120 million we had squirreled away in the couch cushions. Then Vitti sent out a memo saying we should relax the learning schedule and principals should not retaliate against teachers that fell behind. This guy is going to be all right, I said to myself.
Then he wanted to bring back the arts and increase discipline; a lack of both was really setting us back. Next dyslexic and overage kids were no longer going to be ignored and more resources would be heading towards them. He was checking all the boxes.
Somewhere though the wheels have begun to come off the bus. Teachers say principals bullying them is just as bad if not worse, perhaps a byproduct of his choice of area chiefs. Discipline is still a joke as ISSP has become a playground in many schools and he even pushed back against a local judge saying things weren’t all that bad, though putting extra security, deans and ISSP teachers in our schools seem to belittle his point. Then art, music and p.e. classes are to huge to be manageable and to give kids any real benefit. He had some really great ideas but then followed them through half-heartedly at best.
Then lets talk about the QEA initiative, he plans to pay teachers gobs of money to go to our neediest schools, well the evidence says it won’t work but I get it we have to try and get our best teachers at those schools but then rather than supplementing them with professional teachers he (the QEA initiative) is blowing millions on TFA hobbyists, who provide their students the exact opposite of what research says they need.
He has also said recently we need social workers and counselors at our neediest schools a sentiment echoed dozens of times in Education Matters but rather than investing in them he’s throwing money at TFA and undoubtedly some teachers who weren’t going anywhere in the first place. He hopes to pay for them by cutting other positions elsewhere.
Vitti has all these great ideas, he’s hitting the nail with the hammer describing what we need but then inexplicably like an easily distracted child he is off to the next thing, open enrollment anybody?
Vitti’s got to slow down if he wants to get it right. He has to treat teachers like valued colleagues and assure his subordinates do the same. He has to provide wrap around services for our most difficult kids because often why they act up or do poorly has nothing to do with school. He needs to make our schools safe and assure kids get consequences for bad behavior. Now I am not saying drop the hammer but something meaningful has to be done or it’s a waste of both time and resources. Then he has to put in place classes that stop school from being such drudgery for kids, manageable and meaningful classes. He does those things he can help turn it around.