Wardynski “It Will Lead To Development”

Grissom

I’ve wondered for a long time exactly where Dr. Wardynski’s support was coming from. Now we have it from the horse’s mouth.

Not Teachers

You see, he hasn’t ever had the support of teachers, you know, the only group of Huntsville City School employees that actually care about students and education. To be frank, the overwhelming majority of teachers in this district know that Wardynski is killing our schools. Once the damage is finalized, and we continue to see a declining enrollment, declining test scores (on evaluations that Wardynski can’t manipulate like the ACT scores), and an increased exodus of superb, experienced, and highly qualified teachers who have dedicated their lives (not just 5 weeks and then two years on a whim) to the art of teaching children, it will be clear that we should have put a stop to this man’s drive to destroy public education long ago.

But then it will be too late.

Not Parents

He doesn’t have the support of many parents in the community any more either now that he’s subjugated student safety to his own political agenda.

While he tried to buy off parent by giving their children laptops, (to break, to collect dust as teachers returned to actually teaching children rather than playing computer games) but over time, most parents have seen this as the silicon snake oil that it is. Students are still easily distracted. Students are still having to carry huge backpacks. Student are still having to open textbooks (you know those things that don’t shatter when a 8-year-old stumbles, and that don’t take 10 minutes to get to today’s reading selection) to learn.

Other parents have had their eyes open to the reality that Wardynski doesn’t actually give a damn about their children for a long time. We’ve known how Wardynski actually felt about the needs of special education children long before he began raiding the special education funding to pay for all his pet projects.

As children are challenged less often to allow for ever increasing “testing,” more and more parents will realize that Wardynski isn’t looking out for them or their children.

Development for Business

So who exactly is he looking out for? He said it tonight in the meeting:

“Our indication is that it will lead to development,” Wardynski said. “In this area (on Bailey Cove Road), we don’t see growth, we see sustainment.”

That’s it. Development is the motivating factor in this decision.

And no, he ain’t talking about childhood development. He’s talking about business development and nothing else.

The only group of people in this town whom still seem happy with Wardynski as superintendent (aside from the Ann Roy Moore haters) is the business community. Yep, the Chamber of Commerce is thrilled with him.

Why?

No Financial Miracle Worker

Well, first they’ve bought into the myth that Wardynski has turned the finances of this district around.

This is not true. The finances of this district were turned around before the man was hired. Dr. Richardson, who despite being a bit of a despot actually does care about public education, deserves all the credit for the financial turn around in this district. He’s the one who made the cuts that resulted in the change.

Wardynski has expanded spend, especially spending on himself and his friends. He has not cut it (well excluding refusing to even consider reinstating the STEP raises that have been frozen for 19 months now and his continual game playing with the Special Education budget).

He deserves, in other words, zero percent of the credit for our financial turnaround. That “miracle” happened before he got here, and it happened because our teachers continue to fund it by working for less and less money without a raise.

He Listens and Obeys

Wasted I-Pod

The business community supports him because unlike parents, he takes their calls. He listens when they speak. And he does what they ask.

So when they said:

“Look Casey, we know you just spent $6 million dollars expanding Grissom, and we know that you said that you wouldn’t build another high school for decade when you were finishing the New Lee/New Century (or whatever its name is), but we’ve got all this land just going to waste behind Sam’s Club, and you know, we’d really like to build some expensive houses over there, so we need you to move Grissom to the other side of the parkway. To make it work, we’ll even tell Tommy (Battle) to build you a new road. Oh, and get this, we can call it the Weatherly Road site to confuse everyone.

And when they call, Wardynski listens. And takes their call.

Excuse me, but what the hell does real-estate development have to do with student achievement? How are students being served by having to drive to school rather than walk? (You can’t cross the parkway on foot you know.) How is education improved at one of the most celebrated and awarded schools in the state by this move that ignores the needs of students and parents?

About a year ago, I wrote that you should care about the abuse that this man has heaped upon Special Education students and families because one day soon, he will do it to your kids, too.

Guess what? That day has arrived.

Someday the Chamber of Commerce will realize what a mistake they’ve made in backing this man, too. Wardynski doesn’t care about education. He doesn’t care about teachers, parents or students. He doesn’t care about Huntsville. Wardynski cares about Wardynski. And as soon as he gets a better offer, he’ll leave to mess up yet another district in another state.

The sad thing is that the Chamber won’t realize it until after schools have closed, property values have plummeted, and the city of Madison is bursting at the seams with expatriates from Huntsville.

If you want to make a difference in this plan, the only hope that I see is in convincing the chamber of commerce that they need to look past what they see as an immediate benefit to the long-term health of our community. If we can’t, I truly fear for the future of the Rocket City.

 
Russell

“Children see magic because they look for it.”

–Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus’ childhood pal.

20 Comments

  1. I completely agree, except maybe that the Chamber will someday realize they made a mistake in backing him. Actually, maybe they will, but they would never admit it.

  2. can you say plummeting house values? I know you can. Since I just moved to this end of town, I was hoping for something to invigorate it. “Sustainment” in the current area? how about stagnation.. and soon to be decline, I’m afraid, without something big happening, like a new school at the current site. Is this campus acerage really smaller compared to Huntsville High? that seemed to go well with a new school on the old site. And why would athletic fields at the old site be a draw when the school is way over yonder? Seems there would be plenty of space at the new place for athletics.
    Russell… you were ‘rwrrwwr–ii–gghhht” from the day this man came to town.

    1. Gentle voice,

      Thanks! I can sense how difficult that was to say. 🙂

      Truthfully though, I absolutely hate that Dr. Wardynski has consistently confirmed my worst fears.

      I wish I were wrong, and I hope that I am on this.

      This isn’t about being right for me. It’s about what’s best for my kids. Unfortunately, I’ve seen no evidence that “what’s best for our kids” influences any decision being made right now.

    2. You must not be very involved in the community. There are plenty of club teams of all sorts, dance studios, theater groups, musicians, orchestras, choirs, etc. that already pay fees for using various facilities all over the city. Thing is, most of them come from the SE and around Huntsville High. They would LOVE a facility or field to use close to home. Also, any real estate person worth his salt will tell you that a new high school in your district can only help your home values, no matter where they put it.
      In addition, this new building should have been built 20 years ago. It is frustrating moving back to Huntsville and hearing the same old complaints and the same old rhetoric. Change is hard, but you HAVE to do it.
      This is THE most populated school in all of Huntsville. We HAVE to build a bigger school. It is a matter of hygiene for one thing. And the athletic fields, including a football stadium, should be part of the school grounds! In addition, building this new school will have a positive affect on the largest group of students and teachers in the city. Of course you should do it!!
      And stop complaining about the special ed. programs. Do your research and make some realistic proposals. HELP the situation. Don’ t make it worse.
      And it is a good thing that new houses and businesses will flourish in the area around the new school. It only helps the South East, and all of the city for that matter!!

      1. Ms. White:

        I assume that you’re directing your comments to me. If not, well, I feel like responding anyway.

        1. I believe that I am actively involved in the community, but I appreciate your willingness to assess my involvement based upon my writing of a single blog post. I am well aware that the auditorium at Grissom is regularly booked. I attend performances there regularly.

        2. I have never, not once, made the claim that Grissom High doesn’t need to be rebuilt. I agree that this school needs a new facility. If you will carefully read the blog that you’re commenting on, you will see that what I am concerned about is not the building of a new school, nor even the location of the school, but the manner in which that decision is being made. Dr. Wardynski does not involve the community in his decision-making process. This decision was made long before it was ever brought to the public for discussion. They have already made arrangements with the city and with the owner of the land. They have already selected the architect. And the first public discussion of the decision (other than in passing at the past two board meetings) was last night.

        If you want public support, then the public needs to be involved. Dr. Wardynski doesn’t want or care about public support for his actions.

        I completely agree that Grissom needs a new building. I am not opposed to it being moved. I am opposed to the manner in which Dr. Wardynski is operating.

        3. You request: “And stop complaining about the special ed. programs. Do your research and make some realistic proposals. HELP the situation. Don’t make it worse.”

        If I ever one time receive a direct answer about any of the questions that I have asked for the past two years about the special education program, I wouldn’t be “complaining” about it as you claim. I have done the research, and I have offered many realistic proposals. I am in my son’s SPED classroom many times a week, every week, as a volunteer. Perhaps if you could direct me to exactly what you believe I haven’t researched, then maybe I could understand what your issues with my writing about SPED are.

        Otherwise, my response to you is this: No. I will not stop writing and fighting for the education of my children. If you don’t want to read my comments about special education, well honestly I don’t think anyone is making you read this blog, are they? If they are, please let us know so we can call the HPD on your behalf.

        Thanks for reading. Take care.

        Russell

  3. Mary Beth White,

    Do share your community background experience and while you are at it …..your background knowledge of the special needs population (citizens in this Rocket City) and their limited respective programs (or lack thereof).

    Do you and other involved members in the community know… today 1 in 55 boys are diagnosed with autism? How is that statistic being factored in to planning the Hunstville of tomorrow?

  4. Good post. I told you guys a while back that the business community is fully backing the Colonel, and it finally came out. This is no surprise, it’s about the money. The kids – not so much.

    I will add to the concerns about spending. Huntsville is spending a lot of money to build new schools that are not anywhere near capacity. (Lee is built for 1200, and I am pretty sure its current enrollment is much less than that.)

    And Huntsville is making a HUGE investment in Limestone County. The distances to the nearest schools are painfully long.

    You may expect to see the school board planning new schools out that way very soon. Probably on land that will be donated by developers ala Hampton Cove or Providence.

  5. Huntsville….that small, technologically advanced little town in northern Alabama is fast becoming burdened with the same ailments as the big cities. When I grew up in the suburbs, schools served the community according to zones. There was no “gee, I don’t like my school, I want to go to that one instead.” That was precisely why they were zoned, so that enrollment could be accommodated, or at least PLANNED for accommodation. With increasing home developments popping up, things will only get worse. Where I use to live, developers could not plan to build a large tract of homes unless it was shown through demographics that the existing schools could handle it. If not, they were to include a tract of land for a school to be built upon. We have an out of control school board cheering itself on, and totally oblivious to the fact that they are loathed by a majority of parents and teachers in this community.

    1. “We have an out of control school board cheering itself on, and totally oblivious to the fact that they are loathed by a majority of parents and teachers in this community.”

      ” When I grew up in the suburbs, schools served the community according to zones. There was no “gee, I don’t like my school, I want to go to that one instead.”

      Truer words were never spoken.

  6. What I do not understand is why HCS does not use to maximum capacity the facilities they already have. Yes, Grissom is over crowded, so stop all out of zone transfers into that school. Consider sending all newly enrolled students to one of the other high schools that are under capacity. Maybe consider doing some work on the old Stone Middle School (since we can’t unload it) and turn it into a nighth grade academy, sending all Grissom 9th graders there.

    Let us not forget that a new high school for the vastly under populated J. O. Johnson is also on the planning table.

  7. Can I please ask a question? Why exactly do we need such a thing as a “9th grade academy” at Huntsville High School? What purpose does it serve aside from segregating freshmen from the rest of the high school students? So will 10th graders be the new “9th graders” in high school? When was this all approved? Why and by whom? Is it just me of has this school Board gone stark raving mad?

    1. That was my question as well. When I researched, I found that this is typically implemented as an attempt to reduce dropout and retention rates. Per studies in states that have widely instituted 9th grade academies, the low performing students do receive some benefit from these settings, but the rest of the students experience no statistically significant improvement in reading or math scores. So this expenditure seeks to reach the “least common denominator,” to keep these students from getting lost in the larger school setting that they encounter at high school. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find longitudinal studies that show that these same kids don’t EVENTUALLY drop out when they are EVENTUALLY blended into the high school in 10th grade. I also haven’t found a comparison between the drop-out/hold back rates for 9th graders in the high school setting versus those rates for 9th graders who are in a junior high school environment (7th/8th/9th grades). Another criticism of the published data would be that they don’t seem to control for the influence of school size in general — if you compare the freshman academy failure rates against aggregate data (statewide drop-out rates), you lose the subtleties of what makes some schools (even with grades 9-12 in one unified program) succeed while others fail. Obviously it’s something other than the size of the student population that drives the drop-out/failure rate, since we’re talking about a freshman academy for HHS, but not Grissom (which is arguably a more crowded school). For my money (and at least part of it IS my money!), I’m not convinced that the freshman academy is a worthwhile investment. It certainly has been rammed through very quickly, though. Of course, that’s our new SOP around here.

  8. Grissom and Huntsville High are overcrowded because the folks with money start screeching at the suggestion of redrawing zoning lines.

    You have a brand new Lee NCTHS that is under capacity. Redraw the lines so that Huntsville High begins at Bob Wallace. Send the Pill Hill and Hampton Cove crowd to Lee NCTHS. Lower the boundary for HH into present Grissom and reduce crowding at Grissom as some of its kids take places of the HH’ers now in Lee NCTHS. Simple simple simple. Wouldn’t cost a cent.

    But it will never happen.

    Why? Because there are way too many scary BLACK PEOPLE at Lee.

  9. We have the same crap going on here…. Kenosha, WI Michele Hancock who previously worked under Superintendent J.C. Brizard of Rochester NY (then he left there w vote of no confidence to do damage in Chicago under Rohm Emanual, only lasted 18 mo before vote of no confidence) Our Super, Michele Hancock is a Michelle Rhee wannna be! They all are connected to the Broad Institute (they train Superintendents and shape these warped philosophies…) We have a facebook page where we are digging into what is going on in our district. facebook/Kenosha Parents for Change also look up “How to tell if your school district is infected with the Broad Virus” it’s a easy ck list. Take care and fight hard! This is happening everywhere…

    1. The Broad Institute is a virus, one that wrecks practically any school district it touches. Wardynski’s play leaves HCS frozen under the same racial divides as before while giving real estate developers and other prominent businesspeople all the cake and pie they can eat. How students actually fare isn’t much of a concern, no matter how much he suggests otherwise.

      In the end, HCS will be left in shambles and people will wonder, “what the feck happened?” At that point, Wardynski will be long gone, possibly to nab another consulting gig in D.C. or elsewheres.

  10. They are also dumbing down our classes, closing honors only classes… mixed ability classrooms now as well as multiage classrooms in thegrade schools. It’s a mess! Both ends of learners are not being served. The excellerated are not getting challenged and thespecial needsarenotgetting help they need as our class sizes are all HUGE!

    1. We have a new facebook page Kenosha Parents for Children. The other one was an open group and administration were writing down names and creating a list of “trouble maker” parents and teachers. We made a new group page that is set up as a closed group… we have 420 members after just 4 weeks 🙂 We are having meetings and going to school board meeting, adding a picket this month! Hope to drive our Super OUT she is into intimidation and retribution of those who speak about their concerns for thedirection of our schools under her direction. She has a personal social agenda of equity over excellence. She is also a under cover corporate reformer. Against teachers, created a handbook to replace contract (took advantage of ACT 10) The handbook is more like a disciplianary tool. Teachers subject to removal if they are deemed disruptive… very vague and all subj to interpretation by the Super. Can we say dictatorship…. what ever happened to being a team leader and getting buy in? the Broad Institute is alive and well wreeking havoc on educational policies across America. Who will save the schools?

      1. Well it has to be parents. Congrats on getting so many members in such a short period of time. I would be interested in hearing more about your organization and it’s work, especially should you find a way to rid yourselves of the Board virus. We could use a success story or two here. 🙂

        Good to “meet” you.

        Russell

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