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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Parent, Vitti never listens to us

From a reader

This very thought occurred to me yesterday (Vitti not listening to parents), it seems to be a pattern with him. Once he sets his mind on something he just goes like a train full steam ahead. My own experience as one of the many parents that turned out to voice opposition to his extra hour at my kid's school was no different than the parents who are butting heads with him now. He calls a meeting where they think they will have a chance to speak and be heard and in the end he just keeps on barreling down the tracks. I knew going into our own meeting with him that he is good in small groups and relies heavily on power points with lots of charts to back up his point of view (lies damned lies and statistics). So we went in armed with our own charts and graphs arguing that the extra hour had no effect in any of the schools that had had it the previous year and some even went DOWN a school grade. Knowing they'd balk at us using the projector of giving any kind of equal time for an opposing powerpoint we simply had them printed into a booklet which we handed out to the parents as they entered so they had a chance to look at it before he even arrived. In fairness we even included the one little sliver of data that he had parsed out of all the other data to support his point of view.

We also made sure that the media was there and they came out in force. So he arrived to an army of news trucks and a hostile audience that had already seen facts and figures and invited to read them for themselves and not have the morsels he thought were important spoon fed to them.

In short we completely dismantled his strategy before he even walked through the door. 

There were some hurried whispers from district staff as he entered as they filled him in on what he was walking into.

So then the farce began. He gestured to the projector with one of the handouts we'd distributed and abandoned his powerpoint. He spent then next hour avoiding handing the microphone to the PTA President and was thwarted even in that by a parent who raised their hand like they had a question then as soon as they got the mike stood up and WALKED over and handed it over to the PTA president to uproarious applause. 

Countless parents stood and expressed their opposition. A few mysterious people nobody had ever seen before voiced support. They were clearly planted there by the district. None of them have ever been seen on school grounds again.

Despite ALL of that at the end of the meeting Vitti announced after "listening" to all our inputs he had decided to go ahead with the extra hour. 

People at that point kind of went silent. After all that we honestly could not believe it. I just hung my head because it was clear he'd never had any intention of listening to anybody but we'd given it all we had. My Dad told me there's no shame in losing if you give it your all and we certainly did.

In the end we were saved not by anyone at the district or the media. The new principal was the one that made it work for everyone. Since that hot night in the cafeteria I've seen what real leadership in our schools looks like. I've worked side by side on a daily basis and watched one person come in and completely change the culture of our school by listening to and respecting teachers and parents and most of all, actually caring about our kids. The extra hour became and opt in choice rather than an opt out mandate and this year it's gone. Bye bye.

In the end my Dad was right. There was no shame and actually, we won.

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