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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It’s time Betty Burney, Martha Barret and the Superintendent left

I wrote this in January and it has now come true. -cpg

It’s time Betty Burney, Martha Barret and the Superintendent left

What do those three have in common? They have been at the top for arguably the worse five years in our school districts history and all three could be gone this summer.

Tommy Hazouri and W.C. Gentry have already decided to call it quits. If the above three followed suit we could have a clean sweep and we desperately need one. This old guard did not get the job done.

Martha Barret and Betty Burney’s terms are up, now they have filed for a fourth and third term respectively but they haven’t paid the entrance fee or turned in their signatures yet. They could do our city a favor and choose not to run. Likewise the superintendents contract is up next winter and this summer the board has to decide if they are going to keep him or not. They could show some true vision and politely thank him for his years of service.

I don’t question their commitment to kids or their desire to see things improve. I question their results, which have been abysmal. I also don’t care if they are affable, make dinners for sports teams, help old ladies across the street or adopt rescue kittens, I care about our schools, teachers and children and despite pockets of success here and there the district as a whole has suffered under their leadership.

Quite frankly I don’t understand what’s keeping them going on. I imagine them by the water cooler high fiving themselves deluding each other about what kind of job they have done.

They cling to the talking points that we’re a B district, though the state ranked us 50th out of 67 districts.

They say look our graduation rate has gone up, though they overlook fact that a change in the formula excludes thousands of kids and how the liberal use of grade recovery has inflated it.

Disciplines a lot better they might plead but nobody believes that. What’s really better is teacher’s ability to endure toxic learning environments. They have to because if they write to many referrals their jobs could be in jeopardy.

More kids taking A.P. classes? Sadly not many more are passing them.

More kids taking a college ready curriculum? Has only led to more kids taking remedial classes in college.

What have they done? Last years reading initiative? Nope turned into babysitting because they put to many poor readers in the same classes. They don’t mention the following.

Only a third of our kids arrive to high school being able to read on grade level. How does that happen? It is partly because the district would rather spend money on additional P.R. positions than summer school.

Our high schools have languished and it’s because once there, there is nowhere else to promote kids to. We have fourteen neighborhood high schools and eight were in the bottom 25 out of 404. Only one was in the top 184 of the state. What’s been the districts solution? To move administrators around, give several away along with millions of dollars to an EMO and to double down on poorly treating teachers.

Rigor has been destroyed, look at how many kids have to take remedial classes in college and discipline is wrecked and if you don’t believe me, ask a teacher.

Then there are other things too: voting to hire more PR personnel when we are in a budget crisis, allowing KIPP to expand when it’s first group of kids regressed and the hiring of more Teach for America acolytes (not teachers) when local teachers can’t find jobs (Burney did vote against this). However the biggest reason it’s time for them to go it how low teacher morale has become.

Teacher morale is at an all time low, because we have gone from valued colleagues to yoked easily replaceable cogs. The county even has a policy that says new teachers can be fired without a reason. They have given teachers all the responsibility and none of the authority while simultaneously robbing them of autonomy, creativity, and innovation, while offering them nearly zero support and administrators told to shake things up, is not support.

One of Burney’s goals for the New Year was to improve teacher morale, hey Mrs. Burney, read the title of this post and that should give you an idea how to help improve morale and do so tremendously.

It’s time Betty Burney, Martha Barret and the Superintendent left and this summer they should do the school district a favor and do so.

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