Left In Lowell

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February 10, 2013

Lowell’s Schools: Mumbles, Grumbles, & Jumbles

by at 12:20 pm.

Let me start with the glad chatter. I’ve pulled out some key phrases from Wallace’s nudge, regarding the departure of Headmaster Rozmairek and the selection of the next.

But for whatever reason, he and Superintendent of Schools Jean Franco decided a change was in order.

People had confidence their youngsters could get a great education and experience a slice of what the real America is like with the incredible mix of minorities in the Kirk Street school.

With all that as a backdrop, the decision on who becomes the next headmaster of this historic facility is one of those watershed issues that will impact the future of Lowell for a long time.

This will be the biggest decision of Franco’s career thus far, and it will be part of her legacy as head of the city’s school system.

It is, basically, her call.

It’s critical that key positions are filled with proven dedicated people who will fight for the best for their students.

I’ve had a chance to work with Franco, and I’m sure she will guide the process to the best possible conclusion.

The first line I selected, floors me. Wallace’s has been actively lobbying for Rozmairek’s ouster since the errant Headmaster started screwing with the Distinguished Alumni cadre. Wallace is an activist. Who just so happens to have the loudest voice in the City, at his disposal. I refer to it as the ‘Blog of Record.’ So deft at wielding this instrument is Wallace, that pols tremble and kowtow; while the current Editor in Chief convulses in an effort to try to make a puny facsimile of Wallace’s prowess with the pen.

Suffice to say, Wallace’s fingerprints, via whisper campaign, helped spell the end of Rozmairek tenure. Just ask the Headmaster. What does he have to lose?

My second selection is only intended to make note of Wallace’s reminder of the High School’s current address. This point will echo.

Next, we start to get to the meat of Wallace’s enterprise: “It is, basically, her call.” By a show of hands, who believes Wallace means this? I cannot fathom the breadth of latitude that Wallace is implying by the use of the word, “basically.” I am convinced it means that the decision is clear, that there is only one plausible selection. That Wallace and his acolytes need only gather to consult Supt. Franco, steering her to the proper conclusion.

Please note the echo: “.. this historic facility ..

Last, the closer. The fulcrum of Wallace’s assertion are the words “.. proven dedicated .. .” By this, I take Wallace to mean - vetted insider. And by that, I mean Brian Martin.

By a show of hands, who is shocked by my conjecture?

A Saturday Chat:

6/11/11 - (Offline archive)

LOWELL — Former City Manager Brian Martin, now the district director for Rep. Niki Tsongas, is a lifelong Lowell cheerleader.

Among other things, he is the glue that holds the Lowell High Distinguished Alumni together, as he is always seeking out LHS graduates who have achieved success in various pursuits.

A lifelong sports fan and a great high school and college baseball player, he has also been a leader in the school’s Hall of Fame induction selections.

And in between, he is on constant vigil through the congressional office to help any economic-development project that might bring jobs and economic help to the Merrimack Valley.

He was the original proponent of the City of Lowell’s Hamilton Canal project, a project that began when he was city manager and was expanded during the administrations of John Cox and now Bernie Lynch. Hamilton Canal will likely prove to be the largest economic stimulus project in the city’s history.

But I think he enjoys most finding Lowell people who are doing interesting things around the world.

Obviously, former Athletic Director, Former City Councilor, former Mayor, former City Manager and current District Director for Congresswoman Tsongas Brian Martin’s name being tossed about is of NO SURPRISE, whatsoever. It’s been rumored for as long as the current Headmaster has been seated.

But why Martin? Why so assuredly, Martin?

Martin is arguably, in the Top 5 of Lowell’s , nonelected, to include former electeds, powerbrokers. Political persuasion is paramount. Martin has all the tools and a network, second to none.

Martin is an educator. Not in the way you would consider most, credentialed in the arcane matters of pedagogy. Though, Martin does have enough credentials. Martin, as illustrated by his life’s path, is a seeker. To be a seeker, one loves the seeking. As a coach, Martin understands, it is the repeated doing, the practice that unfolds the puzzle.

Martin has an eye toward the future. In his own work, and role as coach, Martin clearly is an investor. He sees the long game, the dividend of sustainable growth.

The big question, at least in my mind, is what happens to Lowell High School? All the evidence suggests that Kendall Wallace wants it to stay put, downtown. What does Brian Martin want? If any one person could do the heavy lifting required to get the High School transplanted over to the Cawley Stadium site, that one person would be Brian Martin.

By a show of hands, who thinks Jim Leary can pull a rabbit out of his hat?

Lowell teachers union, School Committee to try to make deal
Sarah Favot, 1/7/13 - (Offline archive)

LOWELL — A mediator appointed to facilitate contract negotiations between the teachers union and School Committee has recommended negotiations move to fact-finding, The Sun has learned.

Both sides agreed to meet one more time in February to try to hammer out a deal before a scheduled fact-finding session in March through the Department of Labor Relations.

School Committee member James Leary said it is “very possible” an agreement could be reached in February.
-snip

Georges said it is in the best interest of the school district to reach an agreement so that progress the district made in MCAS results last year is not jeopardized by ongoing contract negotiations.

What is curious, in January, they were off to fact finding? Yet, Leary pulls a ninja move, bringing them back together in February. (I’ll be curious to see the Executive Session minutes that detail how the magician ninja Leary managed this? Btw., will LPS mimic GLTHS and put the ES minutes on line, after they are released?)

If we avoid fact finding, something Paul Georges wants desperately to do, will the UTL members reward Leary with their support? For a City Council bid? I’m sure Leary’s motives are pure as the newly falllen snow. Good news for Leary. If he runs for Council, he can send his son to the Immaculate and NOONE will say boo. I wouldn’t blame him. I sent both my daughters to SJA. The High School is a great school. And a brand new High School, will be even better! The City Council will have a lot to say about funding such an endeavor. ;v)

xxx

How did SABIS become a dirty word?

Just in case I stand accused of hating teachers and public education, I’ll offer this: Public School® Yes, we did opt to send our daughters to SJA, but we never assumed Lowellians should pay their tuition. We think private schools should stay private. No vouchers. No tax payer subsidies.

I am not 100% opposed to the concept of Charter Schools, but there is a way to go about it. I don’t think the SABIS model is the proper way. As Paul Georges points out:

Charter school should mirror city’s diversity
Paul Georges, 2/6/13 (Offline archive)

… it should be noted that SABIS materials and practices are proprietary - they cannot be shared or reproduced, even though the sharing of best practices is one of the founding arguments for the creation of charters in the first place.

I can’t endorse every aspect of the UTL President’s LTE. So much of it is double speak intended to mitigate the need for the teaching ranks to evolve with the new paradigm of public education. Georges is, first and foremost, the guy that brings home the bacon. If Lowell’s students benefit from his fiduciary, I am sure he will be pleased.

However, if we are to pay SABIS to educate Lowellians, as Georges states, then whatever tradecraft SABIS successfully applies, should be shared. We are, it should be noted, footing the bill. And, as state aid shrivels, more so every day.

The bit about SABIS being from Lebanon is not even subtle nativism. If SABIS was HQ’d in Greece, no such talking point would be proffered.

xxx

Lastly, let’s pick up on Gerry Nutter’s diary: Superintendent Santoro and possible Contract !

There will be a special meeting of the Greater Lowell Technical School Committee on Tuesday, February 12,2013, at 5:30 p.m, to be held in the Administrative Conference Room, 250 Pawtucket Boulevard, Tyngsboro, MA.

The purpose of this meeting will be to go into Executive Session to discuss and strategize contract negotiations for non union personnel, specifically the contract for Superintendent of Schools, Mary Jo Santoro, pursuant to MGL c.30A, (a)(2).

I’ll repeat my position, here.

Assuming it is all about the kids, even though the Vokes, generally, do better than your run-of-the-mill high schools, the GLTHS was still higher than the state average for Drop Out Rate.
From The Sun:
The Pioneer Institute report released last month found the statewide dropout rate at comprehensive high schools was about 3 percent in 2011. Among the 39 vocational technical high schools, the rate was 1.6 percent and less than 1 percent among regional vocational technical schools.
-snip
Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsboro, with 2,116 students, had a dropout rate of 3.2 percent last year.

Then there is this:
While GLTHS ‘ MCAS scores have improved, so have those of every other technical high school in the state. As a result, it’s still rated at Level 3, meaning it is among the lowest-performing 20 percent of schools in the commonwealth.

See, while the Poineer Institute points out that schools like GLTHS get to cherry pick the kids they take and the ones they keep, that school, under Supt. Santoro underperforms in Drop Out Rate & MCAS.

The choice is fairly clear for any School Committee member that isn’t part of the “Family Affair” out there at GLTHS.

I’m not suggesting Supt. Santoro be fired, thus disgraced. Just let the contract expire, as it is set to do at the end of June.

The GLTHS SC should begin the task of finding a Supt. from outside the sphere of the shenanigans in this district. Press the reset button!

You know the chorus. Mary Jo Has Got To Go! Sing it with me.

4 Responses to “Lowell’s Schools: Mumbles, Grumbles, & Jumbles”

  1. C R Krieger Says:

    So, you quote Mr Paul Georges as saying:  “Georges said it is in the best interest of the school district to reach an agreement so that progress the district made in MCAS results last year is not jeopardized by ongoing contract negotiations.”

    What is missing, and I assume it is missing in Mr Georges’ exposition, is how fact finding will impact MCAS scores.  Will the students pick up on Mr Georges being unhappy and it will impact their performance?  Will teachers pick up on Mr Georges being unhappy and it will impact their ability to prep their students?  This is a great mystery, as St Paul says in the King James Version.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. Jack Says:

    Georges selection of words does convey the subtlest of threats. It is barely discernible.

  3. Jim Leary Says:

    Both my hands are up and I am as pure as the fallen snow… :)

    If I run for City Council, State Rep or even Congress, my son will remain in the LPS because the teachers and the principl @ his school are doing an excellent job. If they were not, he would not be there regardless of my seat on the Lowell School Committee. However, I do like being compared to a nija, sorta makes me look kinda cool. Moreover, I do not the the UTL to get elected to anything. I have already proven that.

    I think the discussion regarding LHS is one that needs to take place and I do appreciate that it is a topic that will have many differences among folks, but that’s OK. At least the discussion is now beginning. Have a great day. Jim

  4. Jack Says:

    Kids first. That’s why we opted for SJA. Most parents aren’t going to know how to cope with the challenges of a Gateway City school system. We scrimped and went without material things, so our daughters could have the best we could manage. That said, we are huge proponents of Lowell High School. It is a wonderful school. The Fine Arts Academy, especially the graphic arts, excel in preparing young artists. The Latin Lyceum is decent. It is held aloft by the sweaty brows of the teaching staff. I won’t give you the full Fahlberg routine, but some work needs to be done. I figure, if the ROTC program can have a full time coordinator, so can the LL. I wouldn’t suggest the same ‘arrangement’ that was in place under Dr. Jack.

    What makes you ‘cool,’ and this point is debateable :) , is not words like ‘Ninja.’ It is rolling with the punches and being of good humor. You could have easily feigned being a victim of a ‘bully blogger,’ based on what I wrote; but you didn’t. That was cool headed. (Though you do have a habit of running Hot-Cold.)

    Serious topics do need to be fully discussed. Thank you for taking the heat, as I attempted to nudge things in my own way. I owe you beer.

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