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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lowell School Superintendent Going

Is some local drama club doing a production of Casablanca and searching for someone to play the role of Captain Louis Renault?  It sure seems that members of the School Committee are auditioning.
I'm shocked, shocked to find [that gambling is going on in here]!
One of the most important tasks of our School Committee is the hiring and retaining (or firing) of a School Superintendent.  That members of the School Committee didn't realize they were burning daylight in negotiations with our current Superintendent, Dr Chris Augusta Scott, is a surprise to me.  Doesn't the School Committee have its own lawyer, Mr James P. Hall, Esq, to help them with this kind of thing?  I have always been impressed by Mr Hall.  One would have thought he would be advising the School Committee on how to proceed with this most important of negotiations.

It would appear that either the School Committee knew what they were doing and are just covering it up or they lack the competence to do their job.  That second option seems a little thin to me.

And, the comment in Thursday's Lowell Sun from Mayor James Milanazzo (who serves as the Chairman of the School Committee by virtue of being Mayor) suggests that the School Committee is actually ready to move on.
I wish her well, and I enjoyed my year as mayor working with her...
What is the reason behind the School Committee's decision to decide by not deciding?  One option presented is a loss of confidence, based upon Ms Scott free lancing in some areas.  This was suggested by a commenter at the blog Left in Lowell, which comment can be found here.  Another option is that this goes all the way back to the Fatacanti Imbroglio, in the Summer of 2009, about which I blogged here.  At the time I suggested that
The appointed School Superintendent will gain in power vis-a-via the School Committee, but that may, in the long run, create a backlash, which will then make the School Committee so powerful that the next School Superintendent will not be able to do his or her job properly. And, there will be a knock-on effect for the City Council.
Have the chickens come home to roost?

But, to the issue of the day.  While this move by Dr Scott may be a negotiating tactic, one senses that the School Committee is just meeting in Executive Session to put a good face on a decision already taken.

So, to the future.  The first thing the School Committee owes the Parents and the Rate Payers (or the Voters, if you prefer) is a solid appraisal of where our students stand, both in terms of standardized tests and in terms of creativity and critical thinking.  Not hand waving, but hard data.
When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge of it is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced it to the stage of science.
Sir William Thompson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)
Then we can ask ourselves if our students are (1) world class, ready for the 21st Century; or (2) doing quite well by Commonwealth standards, and while not destined to be leaders in the 21st Century as least prepared to succeed; or (3) falling behind others and destined to struggle for jobs throughout their lifetimes.

If the first, then we need someone as School Superintendent who will maintain our situation without driving up the cost of education to the point we can't afford to continue our current success.

If the second, then we need someone as School Superintendent who can tweak the system and bring it up to the point where our students will be ready to go forth and discover, lead and produce with the best of them.

If the third, then we need a School Superintendent who will come in and break the current paradigm and give us a new approach to education, an approach that will, without bankrupting the City and the rate payers, start moving our students toward what they are capable of.

With that assessment in hand the School Committee can then go forward and hire the School Superintendent we need and deserve.

Regards  —  Cliff

  And again on Monday, the 24th.

1 comment:

EconomicDisconnect said...

Its bizarre. Chinese students learn calculus on slates with chalk and we cant do it with Ipads???