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The Critical, Missing Element: Authentic, Collective, Leadership

Op/Ed By Howard Eagle –


howard newI hope people are paying close attention.

Here we go again with the so-called “distinguished educator” crap. Yes, I said crap — because that’s exactly what it is.

Remember, earlier this year a so-called distinguished educator (Kenneth Eastwood) was appointed by the duplicitous New York State  Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia? Also, remember, according to the Rochester City School District’s (RCSD) Chief Financial Officer Everton Sewell — Eastwood was slated to be paid around $200,000, which apparently wasn’t enough (since reportedly, Eastwood “pulled out after failing to come to terms with the district on his fee”)?

So, four months later, the cunning Elia has managed to scrounge up another super-man-candidate.

I’d like for the state commissioner, and/or anyone else to riddle me this: Why would we (TAXPAYERS) continue paying seven people (collectively), who are supposedly in charge of the local education system, nearly $200,000 (plus benefits) — plus an operating budget of at least a million dollars; in addition to the superintendent’s $250,000 dollars (plus benefits) — not to mention numerous other six-figure-salaried RCSD administrators — who apparently, collectively — can’t (over decades) develop an “action plan outlining [satisfactory, effective] goals and objectives for the district” — if a highly-paid, individual-superman, so-called “distinguished educator” can do this in “45 days?”  This is NOT a rhetorical question. Why would we?

The truth of the matter is that we’re being played like a fiddle. Those of us who have been around for a while, and have seen the edu-games (over and over and over again), can predict with a high degree of certainty, how this is going to turn out in the end, i.e., assuming that the new, super-“distinguished” guy can “come to terms with the district on his fee” — he will develop something that looks (on paper) like a miracle-plan, and will convince those who are big enough fools to believe him — that it’s going to take 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 years for the super-plan to be fully implemented. However, about 4 or 5 or 6 years down the road (when it becomes obvious to everyone who is paying attention — that there are no significant, fundamental, measurable changes and/or improvements) — the excuses will begin to flow (like water flows from High Falls) — relative to so-called unanticipated pitfalls and circumstances, and people will be told that it’s going to take longer than originally thought, and therefore the implementation-timeline needs to be extended (round and round we go).

So, the bottom line becomes that the state education commissioner is collaborating with willing, local officials to identify a hired-education-gun, who is capable of creating a convincing, change-mirage — in order to justify all of their existences (at least for a while longer), and to convince the tiring public that (collectively) they are going to effectively address the dire urban-education crisis (at the most challenging level) — in this particular case — the worst-performing school district in all of New York state.

We don’t have to be brilliant educators, or educators at all — to know that if we want proof of what someone is capable of doing — common sense and intelligence dictates that we should look at what they have done. So, lets look at “Los Angeles, Denver and Hartford, Connecticut school districts over the last 30 years,” and see what Mr. “distinguished” educator has done. What (exactly and specifically) do we find when we look to those districts? Well, a few relatively recent examples are as follows (not significantly, if at all, different than the RCSD).

The crystal-clear, objective truth is that there are no miracle-making individuals (so-called “distinguished” or not) who are capable of single-handedly developing “action plans outlining [satisfactory, effective] goals and objectives for [widespread, fundamental, concrete, measurable change and/or improvement in] the [RCS] district” — nor any other predominantly Black and brown, urban, crisis-ridden, school district anywhere in the thoroughly-racist U.S. nation-state (North, East, South, or West), especially and particularly within “45 days.”

There is not a single example (anywhere in the nation) where this has been done (effectively, concretely, measurably, and/or permanently). Thus, to even begin from the position that a vital ingredient, relative to widespread, fundamental, permanent change and/or improvement is a “distinguished” individual — is not only fundamentally flawed, but is also destined to fail. In fact, any potential solution(s) will necessarily be founded in the exact opposite, i.e., COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP.

Another serious flaw in the process is that supposedly Superintendent Deane-Williams already has an “action plan outlining goals and objectives for the district” — the very recently completed, so-called “Path Forward”  — remember? Thus, bringing in another highly-paid, education-gun-slinger to develop another “action plan outlining goals and objectives for the district” — is necessarily a statement regarding lack of confidence in the superintendent’s plan, which again would lead a thinker to ask — then why is she still around at a $250,000-dollar-plus price tag?

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