Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When has Superintendent Vitti ever listened to the community? (rough draft)

Superintendent Vitti has made a lot of suggestions and to be honest I like some. I think we need another arts school or two and bringing back trades to our schools is long overdue though at the same time he throws out so many ideas that I really wish he would concentrate on one or two like discipline and teacher morale before moving on to others. I and many others believe if he took care of those two things it would really help with student achievement and with bringing back students from charters.

The superintendent throwing out ideas is just step one, now he says he wants to go into the community and hear what they think, and that made me think, when was the last time he went into a school community and didn’t ignore what they had to say?

The First Coast community wanted to get rid of Principal Al Brennan and Vitti said he was one of the best.

The John E. Ford community wanted to keep their principal and he got rid of her.

Then last year several school communities balked at being forced to have an extra hour of reading but guess what, they had an extra hour of reading anyways.

Now he will listen to some millionaires who demand merit pay scams and the hiring of scabs but as far as regular parents I am hard pressed to think of a time that he actually listened to them though I freely admit there may have be times I am ignorant about. I don't always hear about good things. 

I am really just wondering if he ever went to talk with a school community and left thinking, you know what, they were right about that one, I’m going to make what they wanted happen.

If I have missed a time when that happened or if there are other communities he has ignored please let me know.


  1. This very thought occurred to me yesterday, 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 powerpoints 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 spoonfed 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.

    1. Wow, you all really did your homework! Good job! So happy it worked out for your school, thanks to the new principal and no thanks to the Super! Wouldn't it be wonderful if all schools could have principals who respected the teachers and parents, and cared about the children?