"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This and that on Heidi's Retirement

As ECSD enters its last week with Heidi Carvin at the helm, I can't help but feel only a sense of relief. She was a terrible school administrator and, sadly, women like her make us all look bad when they are in positions of power and misuse it. My entire career was spent trying to eliminate sexism from the equation and I wasn't always successful, but at least I tried to acknowledge when it was in play. My concern is that all people with limited experience in dealing with women in power will think this is how they all behave. It is not. Just the stupid ones who are unable to extricate themselves from the gender stereotypes in which they find themselves mired. I was recently told that I am a robot bitch who makes decisions based on evidence. I personally considered that a complement, though it was not meant to be one at all. I play against type and I am slammed, but I would find an equal if not greater number of people who, if I chose to make important decisions based on emotional content, would skewer me for that approach. The scientific approach is in keeping with my personality and I'll stick with that in most instances. When my kid gets hurt in a sport, maybe not so much. But in every incidence in which measured thought is necessary for a reasonable conclusion, I hope to always be able to say, "I used logic and sense to solve that problem."

I have only one wish for Heidi in her retirement. That is that she find peace which eludes her. She has responded to life in the way many bright women do, and that is to consider herself better than others because to be a brilliant girl when she was growing up was infinitely more difficult than it is now. Scorn and derision followed her everywhere and she likely was smarter than 99% of the people she found herself surrounded by. That does something irretrievable to a person's life outlook and it made her really self-absorbed and superior, leading to a leadership style in which she believed she was not accountable to anybody but herself. Hence her terrible relationship with every school board she has supposed to answer to, with varying degrees of failure, over the last nine years. When Michael Pierick wrested control back to the school board in 2006, things got infinitely worse because she was now expected to do what she was told. The result is the broken chain of command in which administrators were allowed to disrespect the school board. After all they have done for this district, that is absolutely an unacceptable result. Jerry Roth will have his hands full, but I have confidence he will do what needs to be done to correct the situation. It will take some work on both sides to repair the complete lack of trust the board has in everything the admin. does. If successful, the board will have to ditch the micromanaging style and show trust in various ways. Roth will have to prove he is capable of getting his staff in line and therefore worthy of the trust. It will be hard, but can look really great if done properly. Good luck to everyone in the next few years.

Oh, I actually have 2 wishes for Heidi in her retirement. The other one is that she avoid getting another job in which she has to supervise people. It is not her forte.  I know this because I am also a terrible supervisor and know how to recognize the failure in others...Carry on!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Posted wrong start time. Sorry about that!

Well, for heaven sake. I completely biffed on the school board meeting start time on Monday. Arrived an hour late just in time for a rousing discussion on co- and extra-curricular contracts. Thank God I made it to that discussion. I have seen board members ask questions about this since I was elected to the board in 2007. Five years of asking the same question with similar recalcitrant results. See my article in next week's Review.

Pre-view for the article: Sparks flew and unnecessarily incendiary language was used by administration to portray a simple board request/comment as a wholesale indictment of student activities and the intention of the board to cut them willy nilly, which was not and never has been suggested.  The question was asked as to why the activity coach/advisor contracts remained relatively unscathed while core curriculum underwent a serious fund-ectomy. Here's another fine mess for Jerry Roth to inherit. He will have his hands full, there is no doubt about it. I hope they don't think that poor man can walk on water or something. My expectations are set lower, for a simple breath of fresh air and true interest in evaluating all the data, not just the data that supports your bias. On both sides of any question. Time to grow up, school district administrators.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

School Board Business Meeting Monday June 11, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Click on the link below to view the board packet for Monday's board meeting. Looks like another long one in which they are dealing with a lot of issues. Big surprise. Approving the new transportation contract, another kindergarten section (higher than expected enrollment), staff changes, administrative salaries, non-represented salaries and a preliminary budget is all on the agenda for Monday. The preliminary budget looks balanced. But I have a meeting with the finance director to find out on what assumptions that has occurred, which she couldn't fit in until after the board meeting Monday. This is a busy time for finance folks, so I'm just happy she could sit down with me for a better understanding of the budget. Come early and get a seat!


Graduation Is Upon Us

Our oldest child walks across the stage tomorrow to receive her hard earned diploma. She has worked so hard and we are so proud of her accomplishments, often in the face of adversity. Her class is remarkably accomplished, sporting three valedictorians and a salutatorian. The GPA spread from #1 to #20 is about 0.15. These kids deserve a shout out, but beware of cheering for your grad aloud at the ceremony lest you get arrested or the administration withhold your kid's diploma until they or your family serve 20 hours of community service. These stories were featured by Anderson Cooper on CNN last week as "lunkheads of the week" or whatever he calls the feature where he pans stupid decisions on the air. Click on the link below for more on this story. I can't add any more to this ridiculous story except, "anal-retentive much?"


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

To My Fellow Democrats

I know you are disappointed and I commiserate with you about the results of the recall election. But I beseech you all to stop trying to make excuses about why the democrats lost and move forward. There's plenty of blame to spread around to everyone. I have said here before that I was not interested in the recall even though I think Walker is a Yutz with criminals for friends and a serious inability to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Especially the second part. When I think about the money wasted on this recall, I think our friend Scott knows exactly who he will punish to pay for it. I hope the Racine race does change the balance so there is no longer a super-majority in the legislature. I haven't seen the official finalized data on this so will restrain myself from comment until all the data are canvassed. If the Dems did manage to overturn Racine's district, this will force Scotty boy to at least give a try at a semblance of playing nice.

I am also dismayed that the sheer huge quantity of cash raised through rich people supporting their puppet could have been given to any number of good works or public institutions such as schools. Their choice to give these many millions to our embarrassing, potentially felonious governor, certainly a felon-associate, is depressing in the extreme.

Finally, I heard a rumor that Walker testified before Congress in April that he never used a "divide and conquer" strategy in implementing his policies in Wisconsin. Then the infamous video of him describing exactly that strategy to one of his rich pals emerged. The word on the street is that he is going to be indicted for lying to Congress. That does seem to be the way in which these cockroaches are ultimately hammered. But I predict his teflon suit will continue to protect him. His supporters don't seem to mind that he surrounded himself with felonious characters nor that theft from veterans happened on his watch. It's sad that Wisconsinites choose to believe the rhetoric instead of doing the research.

For example, all that bunk about how schools have saved so much taxpayer money. Really? As with all things human, not all school districts are equally adept at administering taxpayer funds. But our "leader" painted every district with the same brush and penalized all equally. Evansville had already found a much more inexpensive health plan way back in 2007. "Saved" the district thousands per employee. However, this was in the day of the QEO, when increases were quoted as 3.8% in salary and benefits together. If the benefits reduced by x amount, that meant the salary increase pool increased by the same dollar amount and spread around as needed. The district really didn't realize any savings until the following year. The amount dedicated to the health plan was not as high and the wage increase was fixed and spread around. Then the stock market crashed.  Then they stopped the QEO, ostensibly to give higher salary increases to the teachers. But they forgot to teach administrators and board members how to bargain and our dear administrator gave away the farm. The "1% salary increase," when supplemented with the "step OR lane increase" turns out to be a 3.4% increase in the salary pool. Some teachers who earned their masters degrees last year experienced a total of 12% salary increase. Unacceptable and unreasonable in these times. THAT'S one of many reasons (with origins in the Unions) why Walker won. He gave the impression that Barrett would march lockstep with the unions, but Barrett already has proven he won't do so in Milwaukee. Some union members are enraged at some of the items unions collectively bargain for. There was an exit poll touted on CNN last night that had 36% (over a third!) of voters with Union affiliation (family member or themselves belong to a union) voted for Walker. Harsh reality, Unions. Take notice and knock off YOUR rhetoric.

The 5% our teachers contributed to their health plan last year only saved about $850 per teacher, give or take. This doesn't begin to address the 1.3 million dollars in state aid our district lost. Even if the teachers had been asked to contribute 12%, the 1.6 million dollar deficit would have been difficult to overcome. Next year, there will be no choice in the matter. Their hastily crafted and re-negotiated contract ends June 30, 2013. There won't be a choice but to contribute the full 12% next year and establish a new way to evaluate teachers in this new reality. I pray the demonizing of all public employees stops now and their contribution to society is appreciated for what it is. After all, teachers deal with 18-30 kids at a time and I have challenges with my mere 3 kids. Thank you excellent educators in our district for doing what I am unable to do and keep up the good work. Those of you who should have sought other careers long ago are on notice, however. You will have to improve or leave, as any professional should do.

Next week, the board will see a preliminary budget for next year. Pray there won't be any more chaos. Meeting is June 11, 2012 at 6:30. Come early and get a seat!