Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
The Lawrence Public Schools system is a mess:
Chester said that while there will be immediate changes, the state expects the plan to take several years to fully take effect.
“This is not a proposition that’s gonna play out over two or three years,” he said. “We’re here for four, five, six years before we expect to turn around results as strongly as we’ve set forward.”
A 2011 district report described “a troubled school district with chronic under-performance … a district where leadership and governance are flagging,” according to education officials.
Lowell Public Schools are in much better shape. However, Kendall Wallace is still concerned.
What the state is doing in Lawrence should be seen as a serious warning to local school administrators, school unions and school committees. They either need to get it right or lose control.
If teacher unions remain adamant in thinking dramatic changes in hours, tenure issues, salary issues are not acceptable, they will find the day is near when the state takeover of the system is real.
I am concerned, too. Likely for very similar reasons. What Mr. Wallace reveals in a round about way, I’ll be more direct. I don’t imagine I have the ultimate answer. Actually, I’ll present more questions than answers. That is because, as I wander in the bubble, the incessant finger pointing and back stabbing lends to the identification of weaknesses and problems. Thus, a bold drive to solutions is conspicuously absent. So, below, I’ll flesh out some shortcomings. Then, as we who “row well and live”, collectively cross our fingers and hope those with their hands on the rudder will steer us well.
More Saturday Chat:
The same is true for local school committees. If they get bogged down in trivia, try to micro-manage the system or interfere in day-to-day management issues, they too will find the state knocking on the door.
I’m not quite sure where an appropriate demarcation for “micro-manage” is? If we take the example of what recently happened with the Latin Lyceum study, I think it would be safe to say that the current crop of “educrats,” as UTL President Paul Georges likes to call them, have mastered the arts of “institutional rope-a-dope” and “policy churn.”
If by “micro-manage” Wallace means meddle with the staff, then maybe he can account for his own overtures against Headmaster Rozimarek. The bubble knows well the disdain pissed into Rozimarek’s coffee, after the newb Headmaster dared to tilt at such critical school functions as “distinguished alums speaking at commencement” and “golf tournies aimed at fund raising.” Watch as Rozimarek is run out of Lowell on a rail. It’s the city Brahmin greasing the skids. The sooner he is gone, the sooner a replacement can take the helm at LHS. Odds on favorites are Jeannine Durkin and Brian Martin. I’m hearing that Durkin is respected by staff. Coming up from heading the Freshman Academy would be a natural promotion. Brian Martin has acquired the needed certs and has been very busy liasing between Martyville and LPS. Martin could really deliver some political umph ($$), but why would Franco want a subordinate that would be beyond her means to control?
By “micro-manage” are we talking about hiring practices?
… a school department source tells The Column Blog about 30 applications have been received, but one in particular is attracting a lot of attention — that of Anne Sheehy — because School Committee member Dave Conway has been lobbying on her behalf — a charge that Conway vehemently denied.
Or, is it about the LPS’s budget? People are starting to notice that there is a BIG difference between the City Side and the School Side. I’m afraid to say, Jay, it’s not just about “soccer balls” anymore.
We should take Wallace’s assertion to heart. A paradigm shift is sorely needed. I don’t expect the School Committee to compel the Franco Administration to jump through hoops. The SC relies too much and defers too much on the upper echelons of Franco’s team. Doubt that? Watch. They rarely “direct” or “instruct.” The School Committee asks, hat in hand, for reports and recommendations. It’s a balancing act for sure.
Last bit of Chat:
Lowell is an independent type of town. It has a sense of pride and always strives to do better.
It is also a very political city with some tough in fighting, but it always finds a way to rally for the common good. …
“Tough in fighting..”? If you only knew, dear reader. Remember when Doherty leaked “Executive Session” info to the Blog of Record? It was like …. well, it was nasty.
Sometimes the rifts in the SC can get over played. Not long ago, an esteemed member of the “Downtown Mob” bent my ear on The Mayor taking liberties from the dais with Bob Gignac. The Mayor ribbed Gignac about a request by Gignac to attend “District Day” with Rep. Tsongas. The Mayor called it a “junket.” Big whoop, imho. That’s what I was calling it. But, our esteemed “observer” felt the Mayor severly breached the decorum. Your mileage may vary?
The grand poohba of “tough in fighting” is Paul Georges. Lest we forget, the UTL contract runs out in June. Did anyone but me take note last Wednesday when the UTL Executive VP asked for the money slated for technology to be put into a “suspense account?” Yada, yada, … something about a plan and priorities. Priorities like raises? I don’t know if that money is earmarked somehow for technology. It better be chained to technology or Georges will rip it away for his soon to be retiring teachers.
If the School Committee has a rift, the rank and file of the UTL have a chasm. Paul Georges has expressed to me a running sentiment that older teachers made so many sacrifices in the past, they are now due the “respect” they deserve. I’d guess, he means money. Of course, he is less concerned with the bashing the UTL rank and file’s reputation takes, as he endeavors to give the soon to be retiring teachers a soft landing. A win-win, Paul, is noble. What is being presented by Georges, if past is prologue, is a win-lose. Thus, setting up another generation of teachers that look to “get theirs” at the expense of younger teachers. Unions, as a practice, tend to put the cream at the top. But, we aren’t talking about truck drivers or pile drivers. The folks left holding the bag, here, have to teach our kids. They should have a high morale, imho.
In the past, I have called for contract negotiations to be public or semi-public.
The simple critique does not account for the notion that this would inform and protect the UTL rank and file, in addition to providing the electeds a venue to air the process for us, regular folks.
Unfortunately, the rift(s) in the School Committee can be easily exploited, as electeds scamper for precious votes. The Union vote is large enough to garner preferential treatment & favor within the School Committee. The “Downtown Mob” puts Dave Conway squarely in Paul Georges’s …. camp.
So, as you read the latest Chat, read what’s not there. You will find nothing that challenges the status quo, even as the words almost to a letter call for enterprise. If Wallace didn’t need to fill a column, he could have merely tweeted, “Adjust course, without rocking the boat.”
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