Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Unpeeling the Beth Everitt Onion, One Excuse At a Time

Have you ever had one of those situations where you thought somebody did something stupid and should be reprimanded, and that person was eventually found out by others far more important than yourself to have done this stupid thing, and the person who did the stupid thing receives all sorts of reprimands, but for reasons that have nothing to do with why you thought it was a stupid thing in the first place?

Okay, that question was overly long and complex, so I'll just sip some coffee for a few moments while you try to figure out what the hell I'm talking about.

Well, have you had one of those situations?

That's where I'm at with regards to Superintendent Beth Everitt and her crew of mysteriously misguided shipmates aboard the sinking raft known as Albuquerque Public Schools. As mentioned previously, Andrea Schoellkopf at the Journal has a story today describing a letter sent from State Department of Education head honcho Veronica Garcia to Skipper Gilligan Everitt. This letter chides, criticizes and somewhat lambastes (and yes, I get paid every time I use that word) Skipper Everitt for the logic used in the recent switch of 27 principals throughout the district.

Evidently, Garcia and other muckety-mucks up in Santa Fe noticed that many of the moves involving "underperforming" schools ended up with those schools having less professionally qualified principals than they had in the first place. The story then branches into one of those "she said, she said" things were the State Department uses evidence and facts to point out the District's failure to follow policies, and Beth Everitt uses lame excuses and loopholes to explain the "logic" of the decisions involved.

Of course the story is extremely funny, almost to the point of "Borat" embarrassment, as Everitt tap-dances her uncoordinated cha-cha of spin, but there is one or two points not mentioned that I, as a public service, will bring up at this time:

  1. The State Department of Education assails the logic of the principal switches, but the truth is THERE ISN'T ANY LOGIC TO THE MOVES;
  2. Skipper Everitt and crew invented the whole "good principals will go to underperforming schools" alibi, when, in fact, these moves are all about things having nothing to do with this concept.
So basically the State Department of Education is catching Everitt and crew on this lie. Which is cool, and pretty darn funny. At the same time, I have to admit I don't really care much for the argument that you need uber professionally qualified principals at underperforming schools. This is because:

  1. Educational training programs are notoriously awful, so anytime you see an argument in which one claims to having had a bunch of educational training they are actually claiming to have sat in some morbidly boring classrooms being ineffectually lectured at;
  2. Partly as a result of #1, there are plenty of good principals with little training and tons of bad principals with lots of training;
  3. The underlying assumption that being a principal at a "highperforming" school magically makes one a change agent when moved to an underperforming school is more full of logical holes than Butch Cassidy and Sundance had at the end that movie put together. We're talking a beyond "Bonnie and Clyde" number of logical holes here.
So I'm merely watching with great bemusement the whole Garcia sends a letter lambasting Everitt thing, enjoying that Skipper Gilligan Everitt is being called on her logical bluff, but disagreeing with the rationale for that lambasting. Not that you're asking, but here's what I would like to see some muckety-muck notice/point out:

  • As I noted earlier this morning, Everitt is quoted in the story as saying "I think if we move a principal who downright doesn't want to do it, I'm not sure that's effective." This faux insight on Everitt's part is an even bigger lie than the whole "good principals/underperforming schools" alibi. MANY of the principals involved in the switch did not want to go to their new schools;
  • Some stories about principals not wishing to move have made the papers (and I swear I would link to them if our beloved dailies had decent search functions on their websites), others haven't;
  • I have been told that the method by which most principals were informed of the moves was the following:
    • These principals were called to a surprise meeting
    • At the meeting, principals had their names on place-setting placards, along with their current school assignment
    • During the meeting, principals were told to flip their placards over
    • The reverse side of the placard had their name AND their new school assignment
    • That's how they found out about the switch....no warning, no discussion, nothing but a Al Capone "Untouchables" whacking via cheesy placards
  • School communities were offered no input whatsoever into the moves;
  • School staffs and communities were offered no recourse, and no explanation beyond the vague (and invented) aforementioned alibi;
  • Somehow the already top-heavy district ended up with yet another assistant superintendent. I'm serious when I say I have no idea what these people do, and more importantly, what impact assistant superintendents have on ANYTHING dealing with actual classrooms.
And, finally, a final point. Reading between the lines of Everitt's quotes, here's a paraphrase of what Skipper Gilligan is saying: alot of APS principals suck. Really. Read the story closely...that's what she's saying. And it's true, the pool of principals and assistant principals is not what it should be. The reasons for this are many, but Everitt and crew have just added another reason for that fetid pool to exist.

Employers who mistreat their employees end up with lousier employees. The good ones leave. Only those without the qualifications to freely go elsewhere stay. APS treats their principals and assistant principals like crap (pay, lack of support, etc.), and now Everitt and crew have come up with another professionally emasculating "plan" sure to drive some more quality principals away.

Sure it's fun to see Everitt and crew squirm, but at some point the squirming needs to lead to something beyond mere reveling in other's misfortune. Something more profound and fundamentally altering needs to happen here, and soon.

P.S.: Sorry, I was out of the country and missed this Beth gem from a gem-filled Tribune story of two weeks ago.

Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Beth Everitt is against moving problem teachers from troubled Polk Middle School - or any other school for that matter.

No school should be burdened with another school's problems, she said.

"We would never move bad teachers to another school," she said. That practice is known as the "march of the lemons" and won't be tolerated in APS, she said.

I guess the righteous indignation doesn't extend to bad principals. Principal lemons can be marched with illogical abandon.

P.P.S: This afternoon all APS email users received the following from Beth Everitt:

"As expected, Gil Lovato has filed suit today. We question the merits of this suit and its allegations. If there is any truth to these allegations why they were not brought up prior to Mr. Lovato’s contract with the district ending last week (Burque Babble emphasis). Finally, I must emphasize that the district will not settle. We will not continue to be bullied by Mr. Lovato and his attorney."

Not to get all Language Arts/Literature teacher on Everitt here, but that bolded sentence above needs some work. In fact, that's an underperforming sentence, if I ever saw one.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for my morning giggles. Well actually, belly laughs so forceful the coffee came flying out of my nose. I just love your take on things. Of course once again, we need to call on superhero Marty Esquivel to call for an independent audit of this administration with the results leaked to the newspaper.(Don't worry, we'll get Bush to pardon you, he pardons anybody). This will at least put her out of her misery.

Ched MacQuigg said...

Why leak the truth? It is public record.

Anonymous said...

About that sentence,she just said it on the news. It didn't sound right either. Are you sure she is highly qualified?

Ched MacQuigg said...

The sentence is a classic red herring; the truth of the allegations has nothing to do with his employment; Lovato's allegations are no less true this week than last.

She never said the allegations weren't true.

Were I her (and were I innocent), I think I would have begun with; "The allegations aren't true."

Anonymous said...

Someone once said, "You can't fix stupid." Man, does that apply to APS.