Left In Lowell

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June 2, 2012

What Kendall Can’t or Won’t Say

by at 5:41 pm.

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.

When Jack Attacks!!!
Can Lowell’s School Committee Do This?
Transparency in Union Bargaining

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.

9 Responses to “What Kendall Can’t or Won’t Say”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    He won’t tell you about the Lowell students arrested in Hampton last week … (edit).

    Note: I’ve deleted the last bit of this anonymous comment, as it seems to me intended only to hurt or embarass Kendall Wallace in a personal way. Talk like that should have a real name attached to it. That way, the “trespass” can be responded to directly, online or off.

  2. Jim Leary Says:

    Interesting.

    I have a totally different take on what Kendall’s thoughts are, and it is really not a new thought. Either the public schools are able to compete with the charter schools (and other schools) and deliver a very high level of education or they become irrelevent. His concerns reflect the committee being able to move the schools in the correct direction w/all of the challenges presented by the union leadership, charter schools and others. I agree with his comments and thoughts.

    The ground has shifted under the old ways of thinking and acting within public education. Granted some of the movement is not fair to the teachers, who for the most part do work hard and are often very effective providing a high quality of education. And yes, the charters do not accept the same challenging students that the public schools are forced to. Nonetheless, if the public schools are not able to compete then they must realign their methods or die. You cannot continue to do the same thing over and over if it is not successful. Lawrence is an example of failure due to the required changes not being made. I am confident Lowell will be an example of how the local folks are able to meet the present and future challenges by making the required changes.

    The rest is just nonesense. It is the bottom line and high quality customer service that must be the focus. Not what name is going to be hired or not hired…

  3. Jack Says:

    Jim,
    You have rested the challenge on the teachers, leaving the administration and school committee aloft of the din.

    It wasn’t the teachers that choked on moving away from class rank to a GPA distribution. It wasn’t the teachers that allowed the Latin Lyceum to wither on the vine. That was Headmaster Samaras and Wendy Jack. It’s not the teachers that cannot fully account for how tax dollars and donations move through the departmental budgets. (See Soccer Balls. Has an balanced expenditure report ever come out of the Athletic Dept.? Let’s ask Jackie.)

    We are here to help the school committee break through the obstructions put up by Paul Georges. The committee can help themselves by dealing fairly with challenges in every nook and cranny of the system. Lowell schools are not overwhelmed with huge problems. They are hobbled by a compilation of minor chronic problems.

    Politics is what stands in the way of clearing out the problematic “dust bunnies,” not teachers.

  4. Jim Leary Says:

    LOL…Way too much drama. The expenditure report did in fact come out as requested and voted on by the committee…

    Changes to the class rank/GPA distribution; my co-motion incidently, will be addressed at the next school committee meeting on June 20th as promised. It has an excellent chance of changing for the positive with more than just four votes.

    I did not always agree with Bill Samaras; however, he is a pretty good person who really worked hard to make LHS a great educational experience. Blaming him for any issues to the LL is just silly and frankly outright wrong.

    I think the committee is pretty fair in addressing challanges; food service debt for one example. I do appreciate any help to improve our schools; however, I would hope we can do this while treating everyone w/respect.

    Politics runs on both sides, not just the side you or I do not agree with. Cheers, Jimmy

    Regards, Jimmy

  5. Jack Says:

    1) Do you remember what month and year? I’d like to look at it. I think it would be good to see what vendor is used for uniform purchases and if the LHS puts these sorts of procurements out to bid.

    2)Protect the Carney Medal and you’ve got a deal!

    3)Okay. It was Dr.Jack. It was just on Samaras’s watch. Please fix it.

    4)I’m all for respect, Jim. But, pissing on my shoes and telling me it is raining, just doesn’t cut it.

    You know better than I, the SC gets a wee bit too cozy with the Admin Team. Generally, this is good business, as it can facilitate quick responses to issues, as they arise. But, it is work. When “pals” ask for too much latitude, then they are abusing that relationship. When electeds give quarter to those that should be corrected, they do harm to the public trust.

    I do not envy the position you and your peers have chosen. It must be tough to get caught up in the give and take, mixed with the palace intrigue.

    Mr. Taupier suggests we follow the teachings of St.Thomas Aquinas, as formulated by Spike Lee, “Do the right thing.”

  6. Jim Leary Says:

    LOL! And you would be the best at palace intrigue…The Carney would continue as it should…I think the overall outcome will be positive, but will know more in the next few weeks and on June 20th. I can say for certain that I want it to happen and will work towards that end.

    Abuse in a relationship; LOL, perhaps one thinks that they know more then everyone else (when they really do not) and then tries to avoid the appropriate method for reaching their goals, and in effect becomes the abuser themselves…

    Number 3, working on it…

    Did Mr T really say as formulated by Spike dog? Chow for now…:)

  7. Jack Says:

    Yes, Jim. Bill says that frequently. That’s why he voted for Obama. ;v)

    Can you follow the advice?

    Better yet! Can you follow Kendall’s advice? Can you lead this SC to “Do the right thing?”

    Honestly, you worry me sometimes with that “Hot-Cold, Up-Down” thing you do. But, when you are “hot,” I think you could pull it off.

    Notice how the City Council sets up goals for the CM and then hold him to it? Notice how the performance based budget is steered by goals?

    Supt.Franco has goals.

    Can you lead the SC to get out in front on this effort, formulate goals, and tie them to the budget?

    In some respect, Wallace is laying the growth of Charter Schools at the former Lowell School Committees feet. You have sat on those School Committees, Jim.

    Take his challenge, Jim. Lead. Set Goals. Deliver.

  8. Ed Says:

    That’s right. We need to make the required changes with student achievement at the forefront. The know- how on how to increase student achievement comes from educated, qualified and experienced individuals like Jean Franco not Jay Lang. If parents are to keep their kids in our schools then we need to get higher scores on MCAS. What some School Committee members refuse to believe is that it really is all about good teachers. Interview selection committees know that and that’s why they always pick the most qualified, experienced and educated individuals.

  9. Horace Mann Says:

    Just last fall the governor and the entire Massachusetts edu-establishment came to Lowell to celebrate the huge gains made by students at the Murkland. Yet not six months later the Board of Ed approved an enormous for-profit charter school in Lowell. The charter’s application was a joke–they had budgeted for a single ELL teacher in a district where 41% of kids speak a first language other than English. It’s a rigged game…

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