Friday, November 20, 2009

Townhall meeting w/ RTaylor and MBrentley on Monday

From the PG:


Curious Jim said...

These two gentlemen should be listened to. They were the only two board members who did not just smile and applaude every time Mark Roosevelt spoke.

This is not to say that any of Mr. Roosevelt's policies are right or wrong.

It is to say that it is the job of any school board to monitor and question the Superintendent, not to act as his personal cheerleading squad.

One particular case comes to mind.

About six months ago, it came to light that Mr. Roosevelt was occasionally teaching at a local university before 5 PM during a weekday, when one would think he should be at his office at the board of education.

Mr. Roosevelt was getting paid for his teaching (by the university), while not bothering to notify the board of his whereabouts.

It was only Mr. Brentley, I believe, who had the courage to question Mr. Roosevelt about this.

Questioner said...

That is often the case. Other board members say that they do ask questions but they ask them privately or by email. However, those methods do not let the public in on the discussion.

Re: the teaching- apparently the superintendent's contract allows teaching to take place during work hours, even though it includes many personal days as well. One commentator on this blog made an excellent suggestion- the superintendent should teach a class at Westinghouse. That would be a very good use of his work hours.

Realist said...

So what exactly can we expect from a meeting with the outgoing board member Taylor and the constantly abstaining from voting Brentley? A gripe session that goes nowhere, thats what.

Questioner said...

A variety of community leaders have indicated they will be at the meeting. Alternate plans can be proposed. Many people have concerns and it is important for them to know that others share those concerns, and to join forces.

Curious Jim said...

To Questioner,

Yes, I believe you're right, the Superintendent's contract allows him to teach elsewhere during work hours.

That alone is odd.

But what bothered me is that Mr. Roosevelt did not bother to notify the board about just when he was doing the teaching.

As an analogy, it is in every teacher's contract that two personal days are allowed.

But the teacher cannot simply go off somewhere during a scheduled workday. He or she must first notify a supervisor.

And since Mr. Brentley and the rest of the board are Mr. Roosevelt's supervisors, they should have been notified of his absences. Not only is it good business, it is just common courtesy.

Questioner said...

We have requested a copy of the superintendent's contract under RTK, so we'll check into who he should notify about absences. Since the contract is not made available to the public before it is signed, there is no opportunity for issues like this to be raised until it is too late.

watchdog said...

I have looked at Mr. Roosevelt's contract when I first heard about this apparent conflict. One would think that reforming the public schools in a large city would take more than a full time job in itself.

I will recheck, but I believe that the contract allows the superintendent to engage in public speaking and I remember thinking at the time that teaching an ongoing class does not seem to fall under the category of "public speaking".

I am not at home, so i will check the contract and post tomorrow.

kanonymous said...

I kind of remember this a bit too. If I recall most of the outrage centered around the use of his PPS driver to get him to CMU. Some even had the opinion that the superintendent teaching a class at CMU, made the district look good. To be fair, I have seen the superintendent bum a ride from a parent at least once possibly more after a district parent meeting.

Shouldn't some of the frustration be directed at the people in whom voters have put their trust?

Mr. Taylor will be missed for what he brought to the table. I'd like to think he might be a bigger influence as a private citizen.

another observer said...

What did Taylor bring to the table besides obstruction? What did he do about all of the changes and dismantlings at Reizenstein, Lincoln, Crescent, Belmar, Montessori? What about his blind support of Supt. John Thompson? What about all of the updates and renovation to Westinghouse only to have just a few students actually go there? He needs to go. We need someone in that seat who will be a true advocate for that district.

Anonymous said...

What exactly can one or two people on a board that is aligned against them do? Pretty much the only route is obstruction -- it's that or nothing.

Isler and Dowd did a very nice job of marginalizing, antagonizing, and condescending to those who disagreed with them/the superintendent. If you didn't fall in with the party line (ie, if you advocated against the plans -- which they did) you were not a part of that board. Taylor and Brentley were painted as obstructionist for asking questions, for bringing up practices in other districts, for pointing out conflicting evidence. The media tagged them that way as well.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of renovations, Mr. Sumpter went on and on at the last session about renovations at Milliones. But renovations didn't make Westinghouse successful and they won't make Milliones successful. It should be a jr high as intended- or used for Rogers CAPA.

another observer said...

Asking questions and pointing out conflicting evidence is fine. But doing it after the decisions have been made is useless. To be effective, Taylor and Brentley needed to get along with other members and convince them that the new evidence is valid. Grandstanding for the public when the cameras are on does nothing. Negotiating and opening dialogue does.

Anonymous said...

The problem is, almost NOTHING will ever convince the other members. They have made their deals and will go along with whatever the superintendent wants.

solutionsRus said...

Another observer,

Right on! RT and MB could be more effective in their advocacy for their different points of view.

But anon 5:26 is also correct for the reasons stated, and also because these folks have been serving on the board together for years (I think at least 5 of them through the thompson and roosevelt years) and I believe that thier relationships are too damaged to ever have any real dialogue about the issues.

So we can either give up or we can show up at meetings to try to convince the board and, more importantly, the public, with fact-based and reasoned arguments
about the problems with the reforms. I say we fight.