It’s rather difficult keeping up with the superintendent these days, isn’t it? It seems that every day he’s on the news making unfounded, (and disturbingly paranoid) statements in an attempt to redirect attention away from his own infiltration of our system, or acting like he’s the one being bullied when people dare to ask him about bullying issues.
You’d almost feel bad for the guy. Almost.
Wardynski Has Ordered The Reduction of Referrals
The reason that I can’t feel sorry for him despite his claims that he’s insulted by people asking him questions is simple: Up until perhaps yesterday with the arrests of six students for fighting at Lee High, the superintendent has ordered principals and teachers to reduce the number of reported student incidents this year, so that he might be able to use that reduction to support his unplanned and unorganized decision to convert the district to digital curriculum from Pearson as he did at the board meeting on September 20th where he claimed he was told by principals, “Dr. Wardynski, we don’t have any discipline problems, anymore.”
He wanted the school district to show a reduction in the student incident rate so that he could regularly brag that how his “leadership” has reduced student discipline problems by “60 percent in one year.”
But don’t take my word for it. Take it from Mr. Bert Simmons. Mr. Simmons is a consultant that the district has hired to help address discipline issues in the classroom at both Dawson Elementary and Westlawn Middle. As such, it might prove helpful to examine exactly what Mr. Simmons’ plans are and how they tie into the superintendent’s need to reduce discipline referrals in the district so that he might continue to brag about his achievements.
What Mr. Simmons Says About Himself
Mr. Simmons, on his website, claims that he and Simmons Associates-The Education Company:
REDUCE Classroom DISCIPLINE REFERRALS by 85% IMMEDIATELY upon implementation of the plan!
[And yes, the color selections and capital letters are Mr. Simmons’ not mine.]
Mr. Simmons goes own to claim:
Our COMPREHENSIVE BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT PROGRAM Will . . .
reduce your tardies and office referrals
effectively minimize discipline challenges
empower teachers to motivate ALL students
give you skills to work effectively with parents
turn your administrative team into effective, consistent, and empowered leaders
So twice in fewer than about 65 words, Mr. Simmons is selling his skills for reducing office referrals.
Later on the site, he claims that his comprehensive behavior management program is important to the school because:
It saves the principal trouble.
I’ve listened to Mr. Simmons’ video clips on his web site. He offers some genuinely funny accounts of his time as a school teacher and administrator, and some of his advice (like suggesting that teachers and administrators treat their students with respect) is sound classroom management technique.
HCS Pays $63,744 to Save the Principal Trouble
However, in the month of August, the district paid Simmons Associates-Ed Co $10,944.00 to begin implementing his Comprehensive Behavior Management Program at Dawson and Westlawn.
For the month of September, the district signed a temporary agreement with Simmons Associates in the amount of $16,800 ($2,400/day for seven days).
For the month of November, the district approved a temporary agreement with Simmons Associates in the amount of $36,000 ($2,400/day for 15 days).
So far our district has agreed to pay Simmons Associates $63,744 in order to “save the principal trouble.”
What Advice and Suggestions is Simmons Offering?
When a teacher has a discipline issue in her classroom that she cannot handle on her own, the “Crisis Management Team” is summoned to the room with a intercom call of “WhoWho–Room Four.”
Similar to a code call in a hospital (but far more difficult to take seriously), this call tells the Crisis Management Team to drop whatever they are doing at the moment and report to room four.
WhoWho is this Crisis Management Team you might ask? This team is made up of other teachers in the schools such as the PE teacher (who leaves his/her class with an aide) and a Special Education collaborative teacher (whom we all know has nothing better to do, like, you know, teach and assist a special needs student). There is also a third teacher involved in this Crisis Management Team.
Do you notice who is not involved?
That’s right, the principal. We must, after all, save the principal trouble and reduce the number of referrals to the office and central office so that our superintendent can continue to be told “Dr. Wardynski, we don’t have any discipline problems, anymore.”
Discipline Should Be Handled In The Classroom
Please don’t misunderstand my point here: discipline should absolutely be handled in the classroom whenever possible. A good teacher can and should manage her classroom discipline issues without regularly calling the principal or security. However, there comes a point when a student begins to so severely disrupt educational process in a classroom that the teacher needs to (and should) refer that student to someone else.
Historically, this is the principal’s or the assistant principal’s role. (Who among us doesn’t remember being sent to the principal’s office for some infraction of the rules?)
Principals Are Overworked in Zero-Sum Game
Also, please understand that our principals are overworked in our district. The superintendent has them so busy micro-managing their schools that they simply do not have time to do their job. They are being told they must constantly improve their school’s test scores in a zero-sum environment where they must compete not for the best education for all of our students, but rather they must be better than the other schools in the district.
Education isn’t a zero-sum game. All of our kids should be winners. We shouldn’t be pitting school against school as Dr. Wardynski is doing. We should be seeking the improvement of all of our schools without making some the “winners” and some the “losers.” This approach will destroy our schools and our community.
However, please tell me exactly how it makes sense for a discipline issue to disrupt not just one classroom, but potentially three classrooms while the Crisis Management Team responds to the “WhoWho” call?
Sweeping Safety Under The Rug
The reason that Simmons Associates-The Education Company is being paid $63,744 to “reduce discipline referrals by 85%” is plain: They are being paid this amount so that Dr. Wardynski can indeed sweep student safety under his rug of propaganda.
I don’t care if Dr. Wardynski takes “that as an insult, frankly.” It is the truth. And frankly, my dear superintendent, I don’t give a damn if you’re insulted by it. Stop doing it, and you won’t be insulted.