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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Out of Touch at GLTHS

Left In Lowell

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May 7, 2010

Out of Touch at GLTHS

by at 7:56 pm.

As indicated in comments to a previous post, Dracut GLTHS Board member Victor Olson posted his reasoning in voting for Santoro for superintendent on Shawn’s blog, Dracut Forum.

Mr. Olson said a whole lot of nothing except, in essence, “she’s been there on the team so she’s the right person to take the job.” Then he gainsays what Santoro herself was quoted as stating, so it makes me wonder, did he listen to the same interview Eric Smith and our Move Lowell Forward members did? Olson’s comment, “she understands the importance of continuous improvement initiatives and that complacency is not acceptable” is in direct contrast to Santoro’s comment taken from her interview, quoted in the Sun article (requoted in my interviews post):

The school is already in excellent shape, according to Mary Jo Santoro, assistant superintendent/principal at Greater Lowell Tech since 2003.

“I think the ship is sailing pretty well right now without any new initiatives,” said Santoro during last night’s public interviews, highlighting her leadership at the school.

Yeah, good luck with those new “initiatives” to combat “complacency” there, Mr. Olson. Hope it works out for you.

Or as it was bandied about when I read this point aloud to some friends, “who is this person with initiatives and why didn’t they hire her?”

Mr. Olson wants us to believe he made the best choice he could have for superintendent. Maybe in his mind he really thinks so (certainly I can take him for his word there). But here is my more important, gravely serious point: the only way he could believe that this was the best choice for GLT, is to be completely out of touch with the morale problems at the GLTHS among the teachers, and the severe divide between the “in” folks hired and promoted by Cassin and his upper level staff, and the “out” crowd which are the rest.

The “in” crowd obviously showed up in force to see the crowning of Santoro on Tuesday night (reminiscent of the “I’m for Cox” campaign). I’m sure they’ll be amply rewarded under the Santoro regime.

22 Responses to “Out of Touch at GLTHS”

  1. K-R-S Says:

    if the school is in such “excellent” shape..why are they asking for a 15% increase in contribution?

  2. JC Says:

    Apparently it is not easy to get a post approved on Shawn’s blog. At least that has been my experience.

    Mr. Olson made a post there a couple of months ago relating to the (then) future selection process of the GLTHS new superintendent. At that time, I made five or six attempts to post perfectly proper but direct questions to him. All my attempts were rebuffed, refused, declined, blocked, rejected by Shawn, the moderator.

    Today, Mr. Olson has made several postings to Shawn’s blog, Dracut Forum. He posted in response to an article critical of the selection process. Yet, instead of addressing the main issue - the irregular and highly suspect (search and replacement) process - Mr. Olson simply ignored that most troublesome question and wrote an 1100 word defense of the winning candidate, Mary Jo Santoro.

    Today, I have once again attempted to make a response to Mr. Olson’s posting on Shawn’s blog, but, once again my comment sits, and sits, and sits, languishing away, awaiting moderation. Apparently, my comments are unwanted or unworthy, at least in Shawn’s view. Of course, that’s completely Shawn’s prerogative. After all it is his blog…but his refusal to post any direct interrogatories to Mr. Olson does make me wonder …what’s really going on here?

    For the record…here is what I attempted to post on Shawn’s Dracut Forum Blog:

    “The issue, Mr. Olson, is the pre-determination of the superintendent-director selection process.

    While you have just made five detailed postings on this blog, containing several hundred words, most if not all in defense of Mrs. Santoro’s selection, you only devote the following few words on process: “Some may have a difference in opinion on the process.”

    The issue is not Mrs. Santoro. The issue is the selection process; the total lack of transparency, the lack of public input, the lack of active recruitment of applicants, the lack of a screening committee involving all major stakeholders, the lack of every single honest, ethical and open step which would have ensured public confidence in the selection. etc., etc., etc.

    And what now is the result? Many disaffected, mad-as-hell citizens (read: district VOTERS), who are incensed at the back room shenanigans employed by YOUR school committee to make sure that their favorite candidate was given the job.

    What would have been so wrong with an open process (e.g. Greater Lawrence)? Did you lobby for such a process? Will you endorse such a process in the future?

    I feel bad for Mrs. Santoro. Perhaps she is all you say she is. However, the process of selection was fatally flawed, and Mrs. Santoro, rightly or wrongly, will have to deal with the consequences of that fact – every single day she holds her new position.
    An honest, open process would have avoided this troubling situation. Why couldn’t you and the GLTHS school committee have seen that? Why couldn’t you and the GLTHS school committee have provided that? And, finally, why are you and your fellow GLTHS committee members so averse to addressing the question now?”

  3. Paul@01852 Says:

    JC, Shaun Ashe actually told me this morning that he thought your post was extremely worthy of being posted…. BUT his blog has a policy that does not accept postings unless one uses his full name. I recommend you contact Shaun through his blog and provide him with your name upon which he told me he would be happy to post your item

  4. JC Says:

    It’s humble pie time for this blogger.

    It turns out, Shawn did contact me by e-mail (unfortunately I did not read it until 5 hours later). He explained that his blog has a ‘no anonymous posts’ policy. He said he requires a name in order to post a comment to Dracut Forum. So, he has explained his policy to me and I accept his reasons for not posting my comments (both the recent ones and the older ones) as legitimate. I regret questioning Shawn’s motives.

    Shawn, please accept my sincere apology.

  5. nextyearishere Says:

    An important issue that is somewhat lost in the discussions is the unfairness of the process to candidate McCarthy who put his name out there, maybe to his detriment with his current job, when the result was apparently predetermined. And that issue raises other concerns that the modus operandi of that school committee is based on their performing the job with too little exposure and accountability.

  6. Lynne Says:

    nextyear: not to mention what sort of situation Jane Connell is in now.

  7. Shawn Says:

    No problem JC.. We all do things differently.

    In our town, we have been dealing with the anonymous comment board problem for many years, my blog was a direct response to that and has worked out well.

    I repeatedly say that I agree that this was a pre-selected appointment, and I provide a forum where the politicians can give their point of view out.. without strongly value-laden attacks back at them. I’ll use facts, and my own opinion.. but skip the terms like “bag job” because I feel it gives a wrong connotation. I don’t hate these guys, and understand their point of view and behaviors. I will, however point out my disappointment and encourage candidates who are qualified and transparent as well.

  8. Maggie Says:

    Lynne , My hubby feels that Connell is now in a more than awkward position and he would not be surprised if she left. He recalls her spending hours in court and dealing with problem students and doing an excellent job. Santoro has no experience with collective bargaining and the next round will prove that. The school is not progressive enough. There are many new technologies that they will not evenm consider exploring. The nect election in some of the towns and Lowell could very well see changes in School Committe members.

  9. JC Says:

    OK, Shawn, I appreciate your point of view. Yes, we all do things differently; it would be a pretty boring world otherwise!

    Actually, I believe your blog serves a valuable public purpose. You provide a warm, welcoming venue for the local pols. Without that outlet, we would never get the kind of incredible entertainment provided via Mr. Olson’s recent absurd postings.

    I don’t hate these guys either. But, I (abnd many others I’m guessing) am very concerned when a public board acts more like a gang than a school committee, showing smug distain for the public, assuming a sense of privledged entitlement, and giving little concern for due dilligence, ethics, morals, or public perception. When these things are in the mix, as they were/are with the GLTHS superintendent search fiasco, they WILL attract the glare of intense public scrutiny, they HAVE attracted such scrutiny, and they will CONTINUE to attract such scrutiny.

    Olson, and in particular - the senior board members - decided to resist all public pressure for an open process. Now, they face the consequences for their actions. After all, really…WHO THE HELL DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?!!!

    Mr. Olson certainly “gets it.” He’s trying to dig himself out of a very deep hole. It’s too bad he thinks we are all imbeciles! That distain just gets my hackles up! Can anyone figure out why this man is suddenly taking on such a public posture? His colleagues certainly know how to deal with the present state of public suspicion: Say nothing! Hunker down! Shut up and let the storm pass by! Order pizza!

    Mr. Olson should take his clue from his silent buddies, but no, he’s decided to take a different course; perhaps he wants to differentiate himself from the others. Whatever the reason, thank you, Mr. Olson!

    Now, after the fact, after playing his part to subvert the public will, only now does he come forth with statements of justification. Now, after the fact, only now does he make statements detailing the fine qualities of the selectee. Now, after the fact, only now does he try to pose as a caring, responsible, knowledgeable, professional school committee member. Now, after the fact, only now does he attempt to claim the high ground!

    Mr. Olson, it’s too late! The good ship, SS Credibility, has sailed! You and six of your colleagues arrived too late at the pier! You missed the boat, the last ship! There will be no rescue!

  10. Lynne Says:

    Shawn: we call em like we see em. I think what you do is valuable, but there is an axis here, the choice between gaining access (to public officials) and getting their commentary (aka “buy-in”) by providing a “safe” place for them, which can be done only by sacrificing one’s ability to state naked truths and losing one’s strength of message. You go one way and I go the other (after all, I could care less what these people think of me, I don’t need them in any way other than to do the job they are supposed to be doing for the city). Both are valid conversations, to achieve different goals.

    But it’s a mistake to think that just because they were elected the last time around, that we should all just shut up and roll over. This whole process was a debacle and an abuse of the public trust and I sure as hell won’t be quiet about it.

  11. Lynne Says:

    One more statement, a warning to the incumbents who have elicited public anger regarding this: in a span of years where the public is turning very heavily against incumbents, this whole clouded and incompetent selection process was a boneheaded move, like fuel to fire. Hope you don’t really want to be reelected, because you just jeopardized that.

    This, my friends, is your Sheehan moment.

  12. Shawn Says:


    I provide a place that is safe for elected pols to post without being attacked anonymously. Don’t think that I don’t provide my own opinions, and allow others to post theirs (as long as it attributed to a real person).

    With this, I don’t have a lot of friends among a good number of pols, but they do respect what I am doing, and I respect what they do. We can agree to disagreeg, as the saying goes.

    There is a reason that you are not allowed to speak on the town common while wearing masks.. the KKK made the point that we need to be responsible for what we say.

    For Dracut, I provide that venue.

  13. Paul@01852 Says:

    Shawn Im not so sure you should compare anonymous posts from someone with an identifiable moniker posting with the KKK wearing hoods and masks on the town common! You certainly have the right to make the rules for your blog but by requiring real names you run the risk that certain people will be reluctant to post critical opinions for fear of retaliation. I definitely agree that your blog may have the better appearance of civility but at the expense of a broad spectrum of opinion. Moderating your blog as Lil also does is your defense against scurilous, libelous or abusive posts. I have complete confidence that any politician with be given a complete and fair chance to express their opinions on Lil just as “safely” as they do on Dracut Forum.

  14. Lynne Says:

    Oh come on, Paul, there’s no retaliation in Lowell…I mean…well…er…I guess you don’t think so if you’re Andy Sheehan…

    And yes, we do moderate here, and though it is rare, will delete things that go over the line. (And when I do, I am called all sorts of names like anti-free-speech, or whatever…can’t win…)

  15. Jack Mitchell Says:

    Free Speech? Don’t you pay to keep this site up?

    You are way more tolerant of the gas bags that puke up on this site, than I would be.

    It’s more like, “Freeloader Speech,” imho.

  16. Jack Mitchell Says:

    PS. Do yourself and your readership a solid. When some of those comments come along, send them a link to Nutter’s site. They will be happier there. It’s a win-win.

  17. JC Says:

    Paul, I quite agree with you. I was taken somewhat aback at Shawn’s “masked,” “KKK,” references. If that’s how he sees all anonymous bloggers, then so be it, but I would take exception and offense should that be the case. Certainly, some anonymous comment is quite reasonable, constructive, and fair. Still, it’s his blog, and I certainly respect his desire to do whatever he wants to do with it. It’s his baby and it’s up to him to control its content, its commentary, and its tone.

    Moderators must moderate. If they feel a comment is not in sync with the taste and sensibility of their particular blog, then just don’t let them through. I guess I must be missing some important point relating to Shawn’s view. I just don’t get it! No matter what the source, how can responsible comment be a negative?

    You’ll have to excuse me now. I always blog with my robes on, and this damn hood is hot as hell!

  18. Lynne Says:

    lol Jack, and yet I am called all sorts of names for allowing said, er, colorful people’s comments though and responding strongly in kind. I admit I am a passionate person though I stand by what I’ve written. Hey I guess we are all gasbags of one kind or another…

    And I nearly choked laughing at your PS.

  19. Lynne Says:

    JC - the big thing for anonymous commentators, IMHO, is comment history. If someone spends time in a community, and earns their “voice” - their credibility can be gauged. We have a ton, a huge number of anon commenters whose commentary we could not live without. They are a big part of what we do here.

    And I have to say, some of the people who post with their full name have far less credibility and are far more strident and offensive than many of our anon commenters…

    I feel that I have been pretty understanding of how Shawn does things, but that he continues to condescend the way we do it here…to each his own and as I said, there’s value in both. Each of us has the right (within the law) to decorate our houses as we see fit. :)

  20. Lynne Says:

    On another point…Shawn must really hate the founding fathers of our country…

  21. Shawn Says:

    The KKK thing was not about anonymous bloggers, it was about the fact that over time, we have had to adjust the meaning of “freedom of speech” to mean attributed freedom of speech.

    As times goes by, the definitions and intentions of the founding fathers have evolved.. “freedom of religion” has become “freedom from religion”; the right to justice is only for those who can afford it; the tenth amendment has been deleted; somewhere, somehow, someone invented a right to privacy that is nowhere in the constitution.

    Things swing back and forth.

    As Lynne has said, you get attacked pretty mercilessly because of moderation. I set the level very high because of the problem site we have in Dracut. I have had to defend my home, children and property from some of the flakes out there.

    Other sites have less of a problem, so can allow the unattributed through.

    I do agree with others, though, that the statements of the unattributed have less meaning and value than those who are attributed.

    And I know all about the founding fathers and their sneaking around. Washington himself was an excellent propagandist. Its a different world today…

    (And I have to let you know Lynne, that link to Google books is crashing a lot of browsers out there.. I gave up trying to read your site until I could get home to a more modern browser at home. Schools, libraries, work places still use older browsers that can’t handle that link.)

  22. Lynne Says:

    Sorry, freedom of religion WAS originally freedom FROM religion as well. Most of the founders were barely, or not even, really Christian. It’s revisionist history to think otherwise.

    If you think things are harsh now, go back and read some of the anon pamphlets back in the day.

    The way I see it, in regards to “free speech” on blogs, it’s the blog owner who has final right to decide level of moderation. Since I pay for the site, host it, etc. If someone came in my house and pooped on the floor I’d have every right to ask them to leave…same thing as the blog. It is, ultimately, my private property, albeit one I share as generously as I can.

    “I do agree with others, though, that the statements of the unattributed have less meaning and value than those who are attributed.”

    And I disagree. There are some VERY credible people on this blog who’ve been here since forever who are more credible than many people who sign their names. Who are anonymous. It’s a matter of earning your credibility over time and participation.

    RE the google doc, it was the first time I had the opportunity, so I wanted to try it.

    (Frankly, iframes are damned old tech, so anyone who is finding it crashing, this is a good opportunity to maybe join 2005. And libraries should be far more updated, IMHO. Anyone can install Firefox or Chrome, even on XP.)

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