Casey Wardynski likes to pretend that he’s dispassionate when it comes to his job. This past Saturday on WHNT, he accused anyone who disagrees with him and his policies–policies that have run off 303 teachers and and other district employees in less than a year’s time–as being an “odd individual” who are confused and only like “a little bit of the limelight.” All these crazy, attention-seeking people are just distracting him from his responsibility of “getting kids ready for college and career.”
My but I do so love his use of buzz words when talking about education. They demonstrate a keen grasp of the central issues at hand. But there’s no need for passion to enter the discussion, unless of course we’re talking about the superintendent, his job and his evaluation.
Being passionate about the damage that these policies is doing to your kids education, well that clearly shows that you’re unqualified to speak on policy matters.
Yes, Wardynski is attempting to discredit his critics by claiming that they’re too emotional to have a valid opinion about the welfare of their own children.
Sexism: Call Your Female Opponent “Emotional”
This is, in case you didn’t know, one of the oldest tools of sexism in the book. Refer to your accusers as emotional, especially when you’re talking about a woman, and people are far more likely to agree with you. But then since Wardynski is willing to blame the victim of an attack for the attack, for having the nerve to go to the bathroom, since he’s willing to blame parents and the community as a whole for his problems, since he’s willing to treat his staff like “feed stock,” it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that he would stoop to such a sexist attack, should it?
“Strong leaders,” sir, do not need to stoop to such pathetic and personal attacks.
But then he’s not a leader (strong or otherwise), is he?
Double Standards Abound
You see, he’s convinced that the standards that he holds others to should not apply to him. He believes that his evaluations should be personalized to fit him rather than standardized to fit anyone.
And he’s quite willing to get emotional about it when it suits his purposes. Funny how every time the board begins to discuss the evaluation of the superintendent, his true emotional side comes out to play.
It did a year ago when he decided to threaten to quit rather than actually communicate with the public:
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.
And then he did it again this past Thursday’s board meeting when they were discussing the possibility of holding him accountable for increasing the number of scholarships awarded to HCS students.
He said, “I would oppose any form of evaluation that I do not have direct control over the outcome.”
Of course you would, Dr. Wardynski, because evaluating someone on the basis of things that are beyond his or her control really isn’t fair is it?
Holding Teachers Accountable for Things Beyond Their Control
And yet that is exactly what you do to our teachers and principals every single day.
Holding a teacher accountable for showing “growth” in her classroom when there are literally thousands of factors that affect a student’s ability to demonstrate “growth” on a standardized test like the STAR test is, you guessed it, holding her accountable for things over which she does not have direct control.
Parents, think about it for a moment: how much control do you have over the type of day your child has? You can take them to the beach, and it rains. You can buy them that new dress that they’ve “always wanted” and suddenly everyone has one, and it looks better on them. It’s difficult to control the outcome isn’t it?
Well, get this. Wardynski, mister-I-shouldn’t-be-held-accountable believes that teachers should be held accountable for students who fail to demonstrate growth over a 9 week period.
Now, that sounds completely reasonable and “dispassionate” even, doesn’t it? At least until you realize that the only measure of growth that matters is how a student does on a single test as compared with how she did on that test 9 weeks earlier.
Suppose that child had a bad night the night before the second test? Might that affect her “growth?” Suppose that child just found out that his bike that he’s wanted for weeks just arrived and is waiting for him at home? Might that affect his performance? Suppose that the district’s WiFi network crashes on test day? Suppose that the computer refuses to boot? Suppose that the district decides to “observe” a class taking the test, and the students are more interested in who this tall, dispassionate man is standing in the room making their teacher seem nervous?
Are you getting the point?
Teachers are being held accountable for things outside of their control every single day. Their very jobs depend on it as you can see in the memo below:
They are being held accountable for things beyond their control, and as Ms. Michal pointed out in the interview about changing grades, they’re even being ordered what grade to give a student.
Wardynski Decides What Grades Are Appropriate
Again, Wardynski’s excuses sound reasonable, don’t they? “It’s really hard for a student to pull up a low grade.”
I think in one of our elementary schools the principal put out don’t give kids less than 50 percent; I’m fine with that. If you’re in second grade and you get a zero it’s going to be very difficult to recovery from. A 100 and a 0 average out to a 50 – that’s still an F. What we want to convey to kids is have we mastered these skills or haven’t you? And have you mastered them on a high level, an advanced level or just barely; those are the key ideas.
That sounds reasonable until you remember that there isn’t a single instance of a student in the second grade being given only two opportunities to pass or fail. Even if we’re only talking about report card grades, there are, in fact four reporting periods a year for every subject. So a zero (which honestly can anyone ever show me a case where a student made a zero on every single graded assignment for 9 weeks?) on a report card is only one fourth of a final grade for the year, not one half as the superintendent seems to believe.
It would be nice if Wardynski understood his own policies and procedures in his dispassionate approach wouldn’t it.
But he doesn’t.
You see, in that interview with WHNT, Wardynski claimed that there was “no ethical implication” whatsoever in a principal requiring teachers to raise a grade that is below a 50 to a 50. As the email stated, “It has been the procedure all year that no child is to receive below a 50 on their report card as the grade for any subject.”
That’s all well and good, except a Principle, doesn’t get to decide what procedures his school will follow on his own. That is decided by the Board of Education. Not even Wardynski gets to decide it on his own.
So while he may be incapable of seeing any ethical implication in this decision, that isn’t his call to make.
Board Policy: Teachers Decide Grades on 100 Point Scale
As sad and pathetic an arbiter of ethics our board of education may be, it is still their jobs to establish policy and procedure for the districts.
And guess what, they’ve done so.
You see, the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education regularly revises the Policy Handbook for the district. Usually they revise it at the slightest request of the superintendent, but he does actually have to request a revised policy.
And our current policy handbook, clearly states two important things on page 97 of the handbook.
First, it states that teachers, not principals, and not the superintendent will “assign grades and confer academic credit for work and activities performed by students.”
That’s right. It is the teacher’s responsibility to assign grades, not Dr. Wardynski’s.
Second, the policy handbook goes on to establish that the district will be using a 100 point grade scale for numerical grades, not a 50 point grade scale as Lee McAllister and Casey Wardynski seem to believe appropriate.
A Dispassionate Analysis: Grade Changing
Dr. Wardynski would do well to actually read his handbook on occasion because violating board policy, as he and his principal whom he fully supports have done, does actually have ethical implications.
It would seem that Dr. Wardynski believes that he should be able to alter a student’s grade at will. But until and unless the board changes policy, that’s not the case.
This is a specific instance of Dr. Wardynski approving of the violation of board policy. One might even say that violation of board policy rises to the standard of “Intentional Insubordination,” which, the last time I checked, is a breach of Dr. Wardynski’s contract.
So, Dr. Wardynski, how’s that for a dispassionate analysis of your actions? I’d bet, much like your belief that you shouldn’t be held accountable for things outside your control, that you don’t like it much, do you?
Feel free to call me any name you’d like, sir, but I remain passionately concerned about the education my children are receiving under your regime.