Experience Matters


Last night during the Huntsville School Board meeting, Dr. Philip Kovacs, a concerned parent, asked Dr. Wardynski and the board a few specific and direct questions concerning the Teach For America four-year contract that the board approved at the beginning of the month.

He, of course, received no answers.

The only response offered was Dr. Wardynski on WAFF last night mocking “teacher colleges” and claiming, again without offering any evidence, that TFA’ers are far superior to traditionally trained teachers.

Perhaps someone should have mentioned to the new superintendent that this is a research based town. We don’t just follow orders that have no basis in reality. Asking questions and seeking answers is the crucial component to education. It’s a shame that wasn’t covered in his weekend training course.

It was, evidently, covered in Dr. Kovacs’ training, for his questions struck at the heart of the matter with a clarity that Dr. Wardynski’s unsupported claims of a “proven track record” cannot hope to match.

How about sharing evidence of this “track record,” Dr. Wardynski? Then, perhaps your mocking, dismissive tone towards people who have committed their entire lives to the calling of education will have some validity.

Again, I suppose 16 total months of educational experience didn’t prepare you for doing anything other than giving orders.


Dr. Kovacs is committed to seeking the truth. His use of the Socratic method of asking questions is evidence of this, and I for one greatly appreciate his willingness to question those in power.

His questions deserve an answer. If you agree, please copy them down and ask them yourself. The more people we have asking, the more difficult it will be for our system’s administration to insult our teachers with their unfounded belief that anyone can teach and lead an educational system.

Dr. Wardynski’s irritation at being asked questions is evidence that he is not an educator. Experience, sir, actually does make a difference.

Let’s continue to irritate him by asking questions like these.

1. You’ve claimed there is “overwhelmingly positive research” in support of Teach for America. This is demonstrably false. Why are you making this claim when there are only two, non-peer reviewed reports on TFA, both of which have been discredited by scholars?

Furthermore, given that TFA has been around for over 21 years, if they were so successful, shouldn’t there be dozens of peer-reviewed studies showing that success?

As there is no peer reviewed research on the program, this is in fact an experiment, as such, will you give notice to parents whose children will take place in your experiment, as is required by law?

If your answer is “no,” are you in fact demanding that all families participate in your experiment, or will parents be allowed to place their children in classrooms with professional teachers?

2. Will you guarantee that TFA members will be equitably distributed across the district and not only placed in Title I schools, which would be in direct violation of the ongoing federal desegregation order re: Hereford v. Huntsville?

Furthermore, will you provide the media with the percentage of black teachers laid off and the percentage of white “new faces” replacing them, or will the media need to use the Freedom of Information Act to determine those figures?

3. I am aware of several alternative programs that have better retention rates than TFA. Did you solicit competing bids from these other organizations? If so, where are those bids, if not, why not?

4. Dr. Robinson claims the $5,000 per year is for professional development, but TFA claims the money must be used towards paying off college loans. Who is incorrect on this point? Are my tax dollars going to professional development, or am I paying off other people’s debt because quite frankly, I have plenty of my own.

5. If, in two years, your 1.9 million dollar experiment on Huntsville’s children has not produced “overwhelmingly positive results,” will you hold yourselves accountable and resign?

For the record, what is your metric for determining “overwhelmingly positive results?”

6. Will you provide members of the media with the exact amount of money you have given to the Broad Foundation since Dr. Wardynski was hired, or will you make them use the Freedom of Information Act to determine to that figure?

7. Will you agree to stop outsourcing public education and to immediately end outside-of-district spending until the media has had time to determine, exactly, how much of our tax dollars you have given away?

Thank you, Dr. Kovacs, for your commitment to education. We stand with you in asking these questions.

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"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. Dr. Kovacs was my Foundations of Education professor and one of the most thought-provoking, inspirational people that I have ever known. Bravo to him for standing up to Wardynski and the board. I honestly don’t expect them to be swayed now that Wardynsky has his mind set on TFA, but we simply cannot stand by and say nothing while they throw millions of dollars they don’t have into a program that is not only necessary, but may cause direct harm to the schools and the community as a whole.

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