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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why superintendent Vitti is leaving (rough draft)

Why superintendent Vitti is leaving

It is true, he is from Detroit. He also may indeed have friends and family members there and I imagine for some there is always a call to return home. All that being said, something seems out of place.

Take for instance the huge pay cut. In Duval he makes 275 k. Detroit has a range for its superintendent that goes from 123-182k. A best he is facing a 90 thousand dollar pay cut.

Then look at his career progression, it’s been up, up and up. I never expected him to last this long, but being in Duval is his longest stop yet. Now I had expected him to leave by now but to go to the state as chancellor or maybe even commissioner. Detroit is definitely a step backwards. Forty-seven thousand kids compared to 120k in Duval and fifty fewer schools.

Sure, Detroit has challenges a mostly minority and poor make up but Duval has a mostly poor and minority make up too.

No, it has to be something else and here are some thoughts as to what it might be.

He may see the handwriting on the wall here in Jax. Despite the city’s elites rallying around him last fall he barely kept his job. I wondered at the time if he would be humbled by this experience or be emboldened by it. Well friends if he was humbled I have not seen it as things seem as contentious between him and the board as ever.  Then when the story broke at least three board members, Couch, Wright and Hershey all seemed to wish him well in his future endeavors, hardly the ringing endorsement of a job well done. Only Shine and Grymes seem broken up by him potentially leaving.

Then again, the board, the sensible part of the board that is, may just be tired of all the scandals. Just in the last year alone, Rachel Vitti following a sitting school board member, a police officer revealing the city has children baker acted to keep arrest record numbers low and a charter school principal complained about the district counseling out poor performers have rocked the city.  I have written how it is hard to understand how Vitti survived the last two.   

There may be bad news about to break. It was widely reported that DCPS did poorly on its mid-year scrimmage which was supposed to approximate how the district is going to do on the state test. The district explained it away as it does all bad news but it may have been a red flag for Vitti, that getting out before the results are in is his best move.

If we do get poor results the blame would have to be squarely in the superintendent’s shoulders as the curriculum we use, that uses handouts instead of books to save money, engage NY is almost universally reviled and is his baby.

Perhaps a scandal is about to hit the district. Whenever anybody defends Vitti, they always say, look at how the graduation rates are up. I believe this is intellectually dishonest because rates are up everywhere but maybe there is more to the story.
From the associated press: Florida’s education commissioner announced Wednesday that the state has launched an investigation into whether school districts are moving students around as part of an effort to manipulate graduation rates.
Commissioner Pam Stewart said that late last year the state began taking a closer look at students in 10 counties who were switching to alternative schools in their senior year but now the probe has been expanded statewide. The investigation will look at all students who were in the 12th grade but somehow weren’t included in data used to determine graduation rates.

I get tips regularly about how schools are manipulating their numbers but nobody will ever go on the record. This means all they are thus far is innuendo but wouldn’t it be ironic if the one thing that people point to as an indication of his success turns out to be fabricated?

So yes, he if from Detroit and home is often where the heart is, but at the same time, something seems off about him leaving.

That being said, I hope he gets the gig, good luck sir, may you find what you are looking for.

Another reason he might be leaving? It looks like because of global warming, Michigan will be the place to be.


  1. Would have never guessed he was from Detroit. His bio only mentions NY and isn't that where he vacations? Seriously his recommendations read like The Who's who of people who kissed up. M Davis really? His suspension alone for stalking a student should have disqualified him even gor the position he is in now. He cussed at students, and of course never learned his lesson and cussed out his underlings who were too afraid to complain. No one can work with Irenetta because she thinks she knows it all already. You only work for her getting her lunch box out of her car when she forgets it. Not one person on the list has any experience in an elementary classroom or school that I know of. Good luck Duval!

  2. All the more reason to not heed Vitti's advice regarding his successor. Leave no stone unturned. If we have to re-rebuild or whatever Vitti calls it then no big loss. Jags have been re-rebuilding for the better part of a decade.

  3. Agreed. The people he recommended are bullies and not qualified. Not one has Elementary experience that I known of. I worked with Krizner and couldn't say what she has done. One has had a suspension of teaching certificate, one has no proven record of being ablemtomeork with anyone. You only work for her and get her lunch out of her car when she forgets it. One only has connections not any knowledge about teaching.

  4. From my principal's 3/17/17 weekly memo (insulting bribe):

    "Counselors and administrators are working tirelessly to support students and help them graduate in June. Please be aware that their success in fulfilling graduation requirements not only affects their future but the reputation of {our school} as well. If we do not have a final push with teacher support for out seniors to graduate, our rate could be as low as 80% compared to last year's rate of 90%, which will negatively impact our school grade and reduce the chances of reaching our goal of "B" with recognition money...If grade recovery is needed for first semester, please work with the student to master those standards covered. A teacher may submit a grade change at any time, when the student shows mastery of the standards."

    1. Hey PM me and tell me what school you work at.

  5. Dana Kriznar is loved by teachers. And she'll restore standards for behavior.

  6. I believe the reason he is leaving is due to the state of Florida investigating into whether school districts are moving students around as part of an effort to manipulate graduation rates. If he gets out of town before the results of the investigation, then he can avoid getting fired. If he gets fired, he will not be able to work anywhere in America as a Super.

  7. Look into the whole invalidating tests scandal in Miami underhis watch.

  8. There was a short article in Thursday's The Beaches Leader in which (your favorite) School Board member Scott Shine praised Fletcher High for the increase in its graduation rate, to 94%. In particular, Shine praised former principal Don Nelson for his work in achieving this remarkable improvement. Mr. Nelson now has some title "Downtown", although thinking at the Beach is that he'd wanted to stay put at Fletcher. If Commissioner Pam Stewart is conducting the investigation she claims to be, it will be interesting to see if Duval County is on her radar.