After watching the video cast of the September ABC meeting on CATV 6, as a resident taxpayer I have some comments on my visceral reaction, and some questions. (No reply expected.)
A. Dear Lord, what is Chamberlain’s official (statutory, legal) position vis-a-vis the ABC? Ditto the Region One board? Ditto each town’s B of Ed? (And the Assn. Superintendent’s as well? Surely she has not a shred of official standing as part of the boards.) In the meetings, C. comports herself as if she is a full member — although she seems never to vote. She interjects opinions unasked, and it appears to this independent viewer as if she runs the boards, not vice versa. In a just world — and maybe by existing state/local statute — she and her No. 2 would be advisors, reporting to the boards’ members only as requested. They would not even be seated at the board table, let alone to the right and left of the Region One chairman. This viewer of the incendiary Ch. 6 video casts suspects that the Super/Assn. Super occupy their elevated positions in official meetings at the acquiescence of the ruling bloc on the board. The actual rules ought to be researched, not guessed at. And enforced. Surely all central office leaders are at bottom mere contracted employees of the board and report up to the board as such.
B. In re. the Sept. ABC meeting: even if C. is an official member of any sort on the various boards, has she never heard of the concept of recusal? In this meeting (and in prev. board meetings) she has openly discussed aspects of her, as well as her No. 2’s, contract — unasked! Should not the chairman of that and the other meetings otherwise have asked her to step out of the room, as is the practice in every other board meeting in corporate America? This viewer was left gasping for air, and he spilled his wine.
C. About a lawyer to report on aspects of the C. contract, and of her No. 2, as discussed in the same meeting: Both C. — unasked! — and I guess the current chairman of the board (his head was turned away from your camera) — piped up, after Brian Bartram’s buy-out bombshell, that there is no need of an “outside” lawyer to be brought in to research the statutes etc. and to report; best to use the board’s current lawyer. Well, this viewer has seen that lawyer in action on Ch. 6, esp. on the Soviet-era hearing on that poor student advisor. Peeuw. Marshall, when you get elected the first thing you might want to do is find the smartest way, way outside lawyer you can to do all the legal clarification and review, and also recommendations on clarifying or revising the so-called 7000 Series. (The confusion on the R1 board as to whether the ABC is merely consultative or is authoritative, an important question for the board and esp. for C. and No. 2, was deeply embarrassing to this viewer.)
D. Some animals use decoys or other ruses to throw predators off the track. The R1 administrators and all too many board members are using technology to do the trick. Wide area networks; iPads; computer upgrades; etc. The bright folks who originally created all that technology for us got educations that seemed to work, although they of course did not themselves have any of that technology for their own education. How could that be? It was said a century ago or so that the best education in America was Johns Hopkins at one end of a log and the young person at the other. A student stood up at one board meeting to say that at other schools the students used the iPads (and other PDAs) mostly to gossip with each other during classes. At another meeting, a student stated that some three-quarters of current HVRHS students had petitioned to keep four admired young teachers. All ignored — without comment — by the board. Computers are here, and educational software is a nice supplement, but not as the be-all of education. How do I, 77 years old, know this? Because I have a good, seasoned crap-detector.
Furthermore: in the non-board video casts of the administration’s staff meetings, I have been shocked by the self-serving immersion in edu-babble about state rules and the like, consultants’ b.s., roll-out if Common Core, and so on — all the very essence of a cardinal mistake in management: process over product. I could count on the fingers of one hand, thumb not included, the in-depth discussions of students that I saw. In short, a dearth of humanity. The poor students! (Meanwhile, I must have missed the discussion, as the camera rolled, of why some half of a major student group failed a class one semester last year. Holy tumbleweed! Not good PR, I guess.)
E. Can someone please ask C. to stop saying “I would suggest that…” or “I would recommend that…” instead of saying “I suggest” and “I recommend”? Uriah Heep is only a fictional character — and one that Dickens did not intend posterity to emulate.
F. Finally, the new R1 board might want to implement the only clear, actionable recommendation of the Pingpank report: move the central-office folks out of the high school building and into a separate structure in a separate location in the region. The expense will be well worth it; I think the voters will applaud. (I would recommend looking in South Kent.)