What Changes Wardynski Hath Wrought

Wardynski

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.

  1. Classroom Sizes have increased along with a higher student to teacher ratio.
  2. The Central Office staff, in particular the upper level of the central office, has increased.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Eli Broad Foundation’s Return on Investment is up to $2,310,000.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

  1. Schools in your district are suddenly closed.
  2. Even top-performing schools, alternative and schools for the gifted, are inexplicably and suddenly targeted for closures or mergers.
  3. Repetition of the phrases “the achievement gap” and “closing the achievement gap” in district documents and public statements.
  4. Repeated use of the terms “excellence” and “best-practices” and “data-driven decisions.” (Coupled with a noted absence of any of the above.)
  5. Power is centralized.
  6. Decision-making is top down.
  7. Local autonomy of schools is taken away.
  8. Principals are treated like pawns by the superintendent, relocated, rewarded and punished at will.
  9. 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.
  10. Ballooning of the central office at the same time superintendent makes painful cuts to schools and classrooms.
  11. Sudden increase in the number of paid outside consultants.
  12. Superintendent attempts to sidestep labor laws and union contracts.
  13. Teachers are no longer referred to as people, educators, colleagues, staff or even “human resources,” but as “human capital.”
  14. The district leadership declares that the single most significant problem in the district is suddenly: teachers!
  15. Superintendent lays off teachers for questionable reasons.
  16. Teach for America, Inc., novices are suddenly brought into the district, despite no shortage of fully qualified teachers.
  17. 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).
  18. Superintendent behaves as if s/he is beyond reproach.
  19. 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.”
  20. 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.

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

35 Comments

  1. ::sigh:: This is shameful. I don’t even know what to say. Thank you Russ for being on top of this and sharing it with others that are just overwhelmed by these people and their decisions.

    1. I was under the impression the Ann Roy Moore was a horrible superintendent. I would literally do anything possible to get her back as superintendent. This year was probably the worst school year of my life. These laptops have been nothing but hell, most of my teachers have barely wanted us to use them and the ones that did want us to use them completely hated them, and worst of all (in my opinion) German is most likely going to be cut and my German teacher already has a job on backup just in case. I’ve tried so hard to get in German and now that I’ve finally gotten in it might be gone.

  2. Kinda makes you wonder exactly what’s in store in the future.”

    Repeat after me- A privatized public school system is the only way HCS can get from under the court ordered desegregation plan. Since they would rather run through hell with a pair of gasoline drawers on than desegregate the schools this is exactly what’s in store for the future. The fortunate few will have access to the best public school system their tax dollars can buy, the rest will have access to the worst public school system their tax dollars can buy. Long live the Huntsville City Schools where education is the hope (not) of the republican.

    1. I agree, but I would add here that its not just a republican effort. See the think tank and lobby group Democrats for Education Reform. They are the face of the corporate left and responsible for a great deal of the market based “reforms” destroying public space. They also ran Linda Darling Hammond off, and if she had been secretary of education rather than Duncan things would be a great deal different…sigh…

      1. True. As is well documented, Eli Broad regularly supports Democratic candidates and causes. This isn’t a left/right battle, but rather it’s more of a corporate/public battle.

        Should corporations be in charge of public schools or should the public? Should parents have more influence in decisions or should outsiders?

  3. Its going to take everyone to stand and make the board MAKE “dubya-dense-ki” stop in his tracks and stop letting he and all his “UN certified” chronys scree up our school system even more….facts are…..no REAL Monet has been saved…programs have been CRIPPLED (Special education for. One) …our teachers are now trying to conduct classes as large as 40 students all with different needs and no help for the teacher….no incentives ……low morale………the biggest fact is this cat does NOT play well with others……

  4. Redeye,Carol, and Russell:

    Here’s something that I don’t think anyone has really talked about yet. The effect on teacher morale is going to be horrible if TFA participants (notice, I’m not calling them “teachers”) are allowed to teach. I’ve spoken with more than 20 teachers from HCS and the consistent theme they’re using is firing certified teachers and hiring TFA participants is a “slap in the face”…I firmly believe that Dr. W was hired to make the tough decisions (to his defense, he inhereted a horribly disfunctional and bankrupt system) and then head out in three or four years. The problem is that we are going to be stuck with the mess when he leaves for “greener pastures.”

    I’m really trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and so I’ll say “he just doesn’t understand how ineffective TFA teachers will be” because he himself has no K-12 classroom experience. I fully fault the board for hiring someone with no experience as a teacher. I’m really trying hard not to see this as an insidious “payoff” to the Broad Foundation. We have got to all work together to make as many people as possible understand the effects of this proposal so the Board can cancel the contract.

    And here is my last point: I am an assistant professor of education at UAH. I knnw that my department would love to have Dr. Wardinski come to UAH and sit down with us and explain what we can do to better prepare teachers to work in the HCS. He recently said “criticism of TFA comes from teachers’ colleges” and that “his interest is children.” If his interest is children, why doesn’t the superintendent sit down with teacher education programs in the area and tell us how we can better help these children with which he’s so concerned?

    1. Well said, Jason. I have given much thought about teacher morale. I had an additional point on the list of accomplishments that discussed teacher morale. I know for a fact that our teachers’ morale is lower than it has ever been, and it’s still falling. But I took it off because I can’t prove it without putting teachers at risk.

      I am completely convinced that one of Wardynski’s goals is to run off as many teachers as possible in the next couple of years.

      We’ve got to defend them.

      Your invitation for Wardynski to visit UAH’s education program is a great idea. I’m sure he’ll avoid it doing it.

      1. Russell,

        As a recently retired teacher, I can tell you that teacher morale is as low as I can recall in my many years of service to HCS.

        Sadly, you are right about running off teachers. We haven’t seen much about encouraging the current teachers but much has been said about how wonderful the TFA participants will be once they arrive.

        It would be very interesting if a formal invitation to UAH was issued to the superintendent. We would all like to know why he thinks TFA participants are a better choice for HCS.

        1. That’s exactly what I’m hearing as well, Carolyn. I will continue to push for the superintendent and the board to provide evidence for their claims. So far, Dr. Robinson’s two studies are the only two provided.

  5. Here’s something I just read written by Gary Rubenstein, a former TFA member:

    “It bothers me that TFA adherents aren’t honest about what really drives TFA teacher recruitment: TFAers are cheap. They earn starting salaries, typically take single health care benefits, and are unlikely to vest in their pensions.

    Bringing in TFA participants is a way to create a cheap, transient teacher workforce as opposed to a more expensive, heavily unionized one.”

    The notion of “cheap, transient” and “single health care benefits” smacks of the business model in which they use profit margin as an important metric…

    The whole post is here:

    http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2011/10/31/why-i-did-tfa-and-why-you-shouldnt/

    Russ has it posted on another link, but I just read it and it’s very informative.

  6. Here is a letter I recently wrote to a professor of education here in Huntsville,

    > I heard you speak at the Huntsville City Schools board meeting on Thursday, November 17th, I was quite impressed with you and thankful, you are asking the questions I want answers for, but don’t know how to get.  I’ve done some research on you since Thursday and like what I’ve seen and heard. I’m hoping you can help me, I would like to get some kind of organization put together to help educate the Huntsville community about the who is actually running the school board and making the decisions since Dr. Wardynski was put into power.
    >
    > I was originally angered by the proposal to merge New Century Technology High School with Lee High School, in effect dissolving of NCTHS. My daughter is a sophomore at NCTHS, she worked hard to get accepted to the school and it felt like everything that she and her fellow classmates worked so hard for was being ripped away from them.  I started doing some research on Dr. Wardynski and have become increasingly alarmed.  I still have a son who will be starting High School next year, I hope. He is not an easy child to teach, until last year he was on an IEP, and has regressed since being taken off of his IEP. I struggle with him everyday when it comes to school, I don’t expect him to be a doctor or a lawyer, I expect him to follow his own path, but I do know that the education he should be receiving now will be what helps him in finding his own path. I’m not as concerned for my daughter, because she has a way of overcoming anything thrown at her, she will still find a way to get the best education she can get, I think she’s an alien.
    >
    > The Broad Foundation, The Broad Superintendent Academy, The gates Foundation, Teach for America, etc, these are not the answers to improving public education in America.  I need someone to educate my son, not just instruct him or act as a babysitter for him, I need someone to inspire him.
    >
    > The community of Huntsville needs to be informed on what they are in for when it comes to public education in Huntsville in the next few years. Sir, I have no idea what I am doing, but I know that I am very passionate when it comes to my children’s education and I don’t believe I’m the only parent who feels this way, I think if we can get information out to the public we can fight Dr. Wardynski and the school board.

  7. To everyone reading Russell’s excellent blog and anyone wanting to get involved…I am going to put some time and effort into coordinating a public meeting on the topic with some individuals who can help us do more than cite statistics b/c quite frankly, the facts don’t matter when you have money and ideology.

    That’s no reason to stop bringing facts up. I just know that the other side doesn’t care about them…

    1. It’s true that the other side doesn’t care about the facts, but by all means continue to raise and debate the issues. Doing so encourages people to get involved and to stand up.

      I can’t wait for the meeting. Please let us know when and where and you’ll have my support.

  8. HI = from Seattle.

    Make sure that your mayor does not get control of the schools. Eli Broad loves this, as it is much easier to influence the school district if there is only one elected official that needs to be engaged. If you still have a school board, and it is already following the Broad agenda for your district (and what a bleak future it is!), you need to make sure to win back the school board seats from the corporate-backed incumbents. Sacramento succeeded not too long ago, and just last week in Seattle we succeeded in getting back two of the corporate-backed seats, so we are hopeful of positive change. We do anticipate that the next mayor (Nov 2014) will try to win mayoral control, so we have to study how this can come about, and then how to best try to derail this agenda.

    Now that you are infected by the Broad virus, expect your supe to bring in the NWEA MAP test. They may say it is being brought in as a “benchmark,” or “formative assessment,” but in fact they will use – inappropriately – for making important decisions about students, teachers, and schools. No matter what they say, MAP is NOT a formative assessment, and should not be used for “flexible grouping,” and as a screen for qualifying for gifted education.

    1. Joan,
      Thank you for that advice. I had someone ask about having the mayor dissolve the board just the other day. I usually fall into “the devil you know” camp, but I didn’t have your insight into this. The problem is that the “corporate-backed” seats on the board aren’t coming up for re-election for another three years.

      Thanks also for the heads-up concerning NWEA MAP testing. We’ve just purchased a new testing system from STAR Enterprises and sounds like it will be used to do much the same as MAP. They were bragging about how much better it would be for evaluating students and therefore teacher performance.

      When education is reduced to merely proctoring a test, it’s true that anyone can do it, but it isn’t education any more.

  9. Russell,Jason,Joe,Phillip

    I am very gratefully for you men stepping up and putting knowledge out for the community to see how HCS has gotten a hold of the Broad Virus. My problem is that Jennie Robinson is all for Dr. W new ideals that he bring to the table. Let’s do our background check on how he got pick to come here. Ms. Robinson friend was apart of this school( Virus Adc) as well as Dr. W. No one is talking about that, so everything he is doing she have no right/wrong comment but she will try to get back with the community on their questions. McCaulley is silent because she has no voting rights(wink). Topper is the between man now. Blair is trying not to agree with everything Dr. W is doing but Robinson has him brainwashed. Morrison is sitting her time out because she really don’t want to be at the meetings now. Dr. W is not answering no questions and he is doing whatever he please with our tax money because ~he’s the boss~ I am very pissed off because yes I was one of the teachers that did my job and now their reasons for not bring all of us back was they did not have no money. TFA is here taking our jobs, classroom, students and they are the ones that do not have a certification in education. How can he say the school need HQ teachers but they are hiring TFA people to come in. Russell, I will continue to support you and I wish you do the same for me. Founder of CCFHCS

    1. Shon,

      Thank you for all that you have done to help get the word out about the actions of the school board. In case y’all don’t know, Shon has founded Concerned Citizens for Huntsville City Schools. This is a huge group on FB, and she does an excellent job of following event in the school system. (Please believe me when I say that there is absolutely NO way that I will notice or catch everything, so if you’re only getting your HCS news from me, you’re missing a ton of stuff.)
      If you’re on FaceBook, please take a look at her group.
      Thank you, Shon, for your service to our community.

  10. A bit off topic, but I want to share some of my thoughts re the motives of corp. reformers. I’m not in the “they’re trying to create an uneducated, subservient work force” camp, nor do I think they’re all out just to make money (though some are, and all of the proliferating “middle-men”- testing, tech, etc – are). I think arrogance and situational narcissism are the key qualities of out-of-touch billionaires, exacerbated by the minions who suck from their teats. Plus power-lust.

    Those are not new ideas, I know, but here’s one that I’ve been gestating recently. I went to a fancy-pants private school for high school (at my grandmother’s behest and expense). Occasionally, when I’m in my son’s 1,600 student public high school, during a passing period, say, I see the whole scene through the eyes the wealthy. I can feel for a moment how they must shudder at the unwashedness of it all. I can imagine how they feel repulsed by the way the children of the hoi polloi dress and keep themselves – the baggy jeans, ripped sweatshirts, piercings, greasy hair. If you saw Gus Van Sant’s “To Die For” with Nicole Kidman, you might remember when Joaquin Phoenix, the poor kid who’s in love with her, says dreamily “she’s so… clean.” I see my nephew’s private school friends and they’re always in fresh clothes (even when affecting gangsta style, they’re crisp). This is all the rich know and I’m sure they equate the public sea of “filth” with stupidity, underachievement, incompetence. They have to hold scented hankies over their noses when moving among the peasants – to the extent that they do – and their hearts cry out to “reform them! wash them!”

    I want to be extremely clear that these are not my views, my reactions – I do NOT think public school kids are dirty! I love the vitality and diversity of our school – including kids who are clean and crisp as hell and that does not include my own son. I’m so proud of what goes on in that school despite working conditions no millionaire would tolerate for a second, despite lack of resources, poverty, myriad learning and behavioral differences, non-English-speaking students. I’m just imagining how the 1% see it. I bet they’re psychologically unable to see any good through that scrim of disgust. We know their reaction to brown skinned kids – hold nose and “save.” It’s just a bit new for me to ponder what role the visual image of my school – by itself – would play in reformers’ ferocious prejudice against public schools, their ignorant assumptions, their twisted savior fantasies.

    Anyway, like I said, not so on-topic, but something I had to try to put in words.

  11. I have been asking questions about TFA, the new organizational structure of the system which is degrading and does not facilitate collaboration of the teachers and special education program that is not meeting many IEP requirements. You can not imagine the low morale and ineffective teaching environment that has been created. It should be enough of us to make some changes. We have got to meet and work from several perspective.

    1. pholt: I had a conversation with several teachers at my son’s school last week. They all said the same thing: “We spend so much time testing that we’re not teaching anymore!” Couple this with the fact that kindergarten and first grade students are being forced to take STAR tests on the computer without help reading the questions from the teacher. Let me repeat that again: Students who can’t read are being forced to take STAR tests and many end up crying because they feel stupid because they can’t answer the questions. The teachers are being told that “this is a data-driven school” and that “we make data-driven decisions.” The teachers are incredibly frustrated by this “top down” approach which creates invalid results. When I pushed the principal on the matter she said “We’re trying to get the bugs worked out and fix this thing.” I don’t fault her, or the teachers, but I do fault the superintendent for bringing his Broad Foundation agenda (i.e., test scores as the most important metric) to our children’s classrooms.

      THE ONLY WAY FOR US TO STOP THIS IS FOR PARENTS TO STAND UP TO THE BOARD AND THE SUPERINTENDENT. My only hope is that Huntsville has some very educated parents who will get involved to protect their children. I have already spoken with my kindergartner’s teacher. I explained to her that I will absolutely opt my child out of STAR testing if it causes him the least bit of anxiety because he is “pre-literate.”

  12. Concerned Parents and Citizens for Education is a group that was formed to address the issues in the outlined in the in the Curriculum Audit (a must read). I agree this is not a republican or a democratic issue, it’s an American issue. Broad and Company what to privatize the public school system that was meant for all children. In other words they want to operate private schools with our tax dollars.

    I was not an Ann Roy Moore fan because IMHO she was a token with no real power, but she was an educator and if she had been allowed to be the Instructional Leader I believe we would have the school system we wish we had instead of the school system we have.

    We can blame the current school board for the situation, but the blame really lies on the we the people who elected them.

  13. @Jason, keep us informed. Testing has to make sense but we do not have the correct people with decision making power making the right decision. We need to change the front and back power brokers. I wonder what are Susan Curry’s views on testing?

  14. “Jennie Robinson is all for Dr. W new ideals that he bring to the table. Let’s do our background check on how he got pick to come here. Ms. Robinson friend was apart of this school( Virus Adc) as well as Dr. W. No one is talking about that, so everything he is doing she have no right/wrong comment but she will try to get back with the community on their questions. McCaulley is silent because she has no voting rights(wink). Topper is the between man now. Blair is trying not to agree with everything Dr. W is doing but Robinson has him brainwashed. Morrison is sitting her time out because she really don’t want to be at the meetings now.”

    This is the board of education we have instead of the board of education I wish we had. Too bad. So sad.

  15. I have conducted my own research and the conclusion that I have made. is that he Broad Virus has infected HCS. During the initial start-up of the 2012 academic year, more of the Virus was evident at in-service activities. Teachers were referred to as “human capital”, multiple references were made to “closing the achievement gap” and generalizations made to “best practices”. Every teacher, parent, student, staff member and concerned citizens of HCS should open their eyes to the truth and open their mouths and use their influence to orchestrate central office and board member change for our school system. The time for action is NOW! We cannot wait any longer….

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