I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

12 June 2011

Superintendents Can't Fail

During the first week of professional development before I started my first year of teaching, the Superintendent of the District came to do a meet-and-greet with Kindergarten teachers.  He mumbled genially about how boys and girls are different even in Kindergarten to a room packed with slack-jawed, horrified educators.

Within two months, he was out.  There were five different Superintendents (counting interims) that year.

The guy they finally hired came to my classroom on the second day of school the next year.  Our school had had massive renovations.  We were hoping to show him that these renovations had not included fixing a badly-leaking wet wall that would, along with a large hole in the roof, lead to the utter destruction of the Kindergarten storage room.  That did not happen, since this Superintendent arrived surrounded by a large entourage of educrats, all of whom apparently had critical things that had to be said while I was teaching.  Such was the affect of the Superintendent, coupled with the noise, that three children immediately burst into tears.

That guy didn't finish the year either, although before he left he was chased across the school lawn by our school secretary, bearing the (newly deceased) black widow that had occupied the lock mechanism of the Kindergarten bathroom.  (Really.)

None of these folks went into retirement, though: they just went on to new jobs.  Usually, they brought golden parachutes with them as thanks from their old Districts.  Those parachutes cushioned them from the fall of their eventual post-retirement pensions, which often were as much as fifty thousand dollars less than the several hundred thousand they were used to earning annually (not counting post-retirement consulting fees, of course).

Nor do they typically leave a long record of success behind.  I outlasted nine Superintendents in my old school District; none of them presided over increased achievement.  Rod Paige's "Texas Cheat-a-Thon Miracle" took him all the way to national office.  Chicago hasn't seen much from its Renaissance, but Arne Duncan sure did.  Jean-Claude Brizard left behind angry teachers and unhappy parents in Rochester to take on CPS.  And let's not start on ex-Chancellor Rhee.

These Superintendents like to talk about accountability, but they themselves are accountable for nothing. They're ever eager to introduce various value-added schemes for teachers, but never for themselves.  They criticize teacher pensions, but do not fail to take their own in full.  They preside over layoffs and budget cuts but find no reason to take any pay cuts themselves.  In short, they are far too often hypocrisy in action.

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