Dr. Wardynski has been superintendent of Huntsville City Schools since July 5, 2011, or a just shy of five months. It’s been a busy five months for him.
Here’s a quick summary of the changes Dr. Wardynski has brought about in that time.
- Classroom Sizes have increased along with a higher student to teacher ratio.
- The Central Office staff, in particular the upper level of the central office, has increased.
- The Special Education budget has been cut by $7 million dollars to pay for significant increases in the recruitment, selection and professional development of Teach for America teachers and various other of the superintendent’s personal goals.
- Senior Administrative positions are slated to receive bonuses and have already received raises while teachers salaries are frozen and new teachers salaries are set at the state minimum.
- Eli Broad Foundation’s Return on Investment is up to $2,310,000.
- The Superintendent who doesn’t want to close schools has now either closed, slated to close, relocated or merged nine schools without parental input, which is exactly the same amount of schools recommended for closure by the demographer’s report in June.
- All job descriptions have been suspended allowing for personnel to be moved at will.
Funny, it would seem that he’s following the Broad Foundation’s game plan to the letter. In, “How to tell if your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus,” SueP of Seattleducation2011 suggests looking at a few of the following clues:
- Schools in your district are suddenly closed.
- Even top-performing schools, alternative and schools for the gifted, are inexplicably and suddenly targeted for closures or mergers.
- Repetition of the phrases “the achievement gap” and “closing the achievement gap” in district documents and public statements.
- Repeated use of the terms “excellence” and “best-practices” and “data-driven decisions.” (Coupled with a noted absence of any of the above.)
- Power is centralized.
- Decision-making is top down.
- Local autonomy of schools is taken away.
- Principals are treated like pawns by the superintendent, relocated, rewarded and punished at will.
- Culture of fear of reprisal develops in which teachers, principals, staff, even parents feel afraid to speak up against the policies of the district or the superintendent.
- Ballooning of the central office at the same time superintendent makes painful cuts to schools and classrooms.
- Sudden increase in the number of paid outside consultants.
- Superintendent attempts to sidestep labor laws and union contracts.
- Teachers are no longer referred to as people, educators, colleagues, staff or even “human resources,” but as “human capital.”
- The district leadership declares that the single most significant problem in the district is suddenly: teachers!
- Superintendent lays off teachers for questionable reasons.
- Teach for America, Inc., novices are suddenly brought into the district, despite no shortage of fully qualified teachers.
- The district hires a number of “Broad Residents” at about $90,000 apiece, also trained by the Broad Foundation, who are placed in strategically important positions like overseeing the test that is used to evaluate teachers or school report cards. They in turn provide — or fabricate — data that support the superintendent’s ed reform agenda (factual accuracy not required).
- Superintendent behaves as if s/he is beyond reproach.
- The superintendent receives the highest salary ever paid to a superintendent in your town’s history (plus benefits and car allowance) – possibly more than your mayor or governor — and the community is told “that is the national, competitive rate for a city of this size.”
- Your school board starts to show signs of Stockholm Syndrome. They vote in lockstep with the superintendent. Apparently lobotomized by periodic “school board retreat/Broad training” sessions headed by someone from Broad, your school board stops listening to parents and starts to treat them as the enemy. (If you still have a school board, that is — Broad ideally prefers no pesky democratically elected representatives to get in the way of their superintendents and agendas.)
There’s more, but I think this is sufficient to communicate the point. If you’d like to read the entire list, you may do so at http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/how-to-tell-if-your-school-district-is-infected-by-the-broad-virus/
As I said, Dr. Wardynski has been busy in the past five months. Kinda makes you wonder exactly what’s in store in the future. If this is the type of “future leaders” that Broad Foundation supported programs like Teach for America produces, I would much prefer that they go on about their chosen careers and leave education to those who have committed their lives to it.