Two weeks ago, the superintendent boldly proclaimed that he was simply not going to communicate with people who are “a complete waste of [his] time.” During a discussion of the superintendent’s goals for 2012-2013, some on the board suggested that the superintendent should be evaluated on his ability and willingness to communicate with the public. He told them that he wasn’t going to do that.
Here’s what he said:
I freely admit that there is people who I will not talk to anymore. They’re a complete waste of my time. I’ve talked to them until I’m blue in the face. I’ve got a lot to accomplish. I’m working seven days a week. Most time at night till ten o’clock. Uh, if my requirement is to answer every phone call, and everybody who calls me and emails me, no matter how many times and how ridiculous, uh, we’re gonna be in a job hunt.
The superintendent was quite specific: If the board requires him to communicate with the public, he is going to quit. His ultimatum was clear, and it was up to the board to decide what they would or would not do about it.
Thursday night, Ms. McCaulley, Ms. Morrison, Mr. Birney, and Dr. Robinson decided that the superintendent should be free to ignore any question that he doesn’t wish to answer.
While developing the goals for 2012-2013, someone on the board thought that the superintendent should improve his communication skills with the public. It’s hard to imagine what problems he might have with communication, isn’t it? Here was the draft of the goals that led to the superintendent insisting that he will not answer questions, that he will not respond to emails.
Here’s a copy of the superintendent’s evaluation that was approved on Thursday night.
I’m sure you’ll notice the sixth goal that has gone missing. Even at a mere 5% of his evaluation, the superintendent decided to threaten his supervisors with his leaving. (You know, even if he had just decided on his own to ignore the communication goal, it would have cost him only $500 of his probable $10,000 bonus.) As I’ve pointed out before, there are many in the board room during meetings who are threatening others. However, I’m not one of them.
The Huntsville Board of Education (minus Mr. Blair who was at the beach), decided on Thursday to allow the superintendent to determine exactly how he will be evaluated for his job performance this year. He’s getting to design his own test to suit his own purposes. He’s giving his supervisors ultimatums about what he will and what he will not do. He’s specifically and intentionally ignoring his bosses, the public, and the board is rewarding him for doing so.
I’m regularly referred to in the press as one of the superintendent’s biggest critics. I don’t see myself that way, but let’s suppose that I am. Let’s suppose that out of the 180,105 citizens of Huntsville, Alabama, that I’m the superintendent’s biggest critic and that I’m the one who he was referring to when he said that he’s “talked to them until I’m blue in the face.” Let’s suppose that I’m the one who makes him so frustrated that he changes color. (Wow, perhaps I’m more intimidating than I thought.)
Supposing all of that, is Dr. Wardynski correct that I’m a complete waste of his time? Is he correct that he’s talked to me so much that I’m interfering with the operation of the district?
If so, perhaps we really do need to hire hundreds of consultants to do his job because he has, over the past 13 months answered exactly two questions that I’ve asked him.
If two answers of a total of nine words is enough to overwhelm him and to cause him to offer the board his ultimatum, then he is truly in over his head.
Of course since we no longer have a school board to provide any oversight of the direction of the district, well, he is doing the work of six people now.
Dr. Wardynski, who insists that those beneath him (which in his mind is basically everyone) show him the proper respect, cautions teachers to speak to the board “as your employers,” and tells parents who ask questions “don’t tell me how to do my job,” has effectively told the board of education that they are irrelevant in his eyes, and that he will not allow them to tell him how he should do his job either.
Arrogance is insufficient to describe him any longer. Insubordination comes much closer.
But the real problem here is that we have a board that has decided to abdicate their responsibility to supervise the superintendent.
The district is Wardynski’s, and he’s turning it over to Eli Broad and his corporate minders.
The superintendent allows no input from students, teachers or parents as to how students will be evaluated. Imagine a student telling her teacher, “I freely admit that I won’t learn to read.” The superintendent allows no input from teachers as to how teachers will be evaluated. Imagine a teacher telling Dr. Wardynski, “I freely admit that I will not teach certain kids.”
The only person in the district who gets to determine how he will be evaluated is Dr. Wardynski. His opinion is the only one that matters.
Keep this in mind when you have a question about the direction of your children’s schools. The single person making the decisions doesn’t give a damn what you think.
Education is Communication. If he doesn’t want to communicate, he should get out of education.