Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What Those Infamous Jefferson MS Letters Teach Us About Linda Sink


Back on February 20th the Albuquerque Journal published a bunch of unedited "letters to the editor" from kids at Jefferson Middle School. The letters were in response to a February 11th Journal story citing an APS plan to eliminate/reduce electives for students who don't show "proficiency" on standardized tests and replace electives with remedial classes to get kids up to "proficient".

There is about a 99.9% chance that you already know this. Chances are also exceedingly good you know that the student letters were filled with grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors.

And you also very likely know that on February 21st, the day after the Journal published those student LTEs (letters to the editor), Interim Superintendent Linda Sink wrote a district-wide email/press release publicly castigating the teacher who allowed such "first draft" letters to be published.

We pretty much all know the aforementioned facts, but one fact I've learned from this little "viral" brouhaha is this: Linda Sink will very likely make a lousy APS Superintendent.

I readily admit making this assumption without really knowing Ms. Sink. I've never met the woman, and didn't even know what she looked like until I found the above photo at the APS website. Over the years I have heard some things about Ms. Sink. No, not all of the things I've heard have been positive. Some have been both positive and negative, depending on your views of things.

Here is a short list of solid to vague things I've heard:
  • Linda Sink is big on public relations and not so big on actual accomplishments
  • Linda Sink is not a big fan of "gifted education"
  • Linda Sink is not a big fan of people who are not big fans of Linda Sink
  • Linda Sink has done a good job of recruiting people, particularly students, to go to Albuquerque High School
  • Linda Sink has some interesting ideas, such as the one requiring non-proficient third graders to attend summer school
  • Linda Sink really, really wants to be APS superintendent
  • Linda Sink could definitely use an editor in her public correspondence
  • Linda Sink, like almost all high school principals in APS, really had little to no idea what was going on in her classrooms while principal at AHS
  • Lastly, Linda Sink got promoted to Assistant Superintendent around the same time many APS principals got shuffled around. There is a feeling, possibly unwarranted, that Ms. Sink had quite a bit to do with the principal shuffle, and this shuffle included the former principal at my school of employ, Jefferson Middle School. Small world, isn't it?
So let's get back to that previous statement, namely: Linda Sink will very likely make a lousy APS Superintendent.

I grant you that my feeling on the subject is, to an extent, influenced by the solid to vague points listed above. Especially the last one, frankly, as the removal of my previous principal, Ivy Langan, from Jefferson was a move far, far more deleterious to my school than any Journal publication of poorly written Jefferson MS student LTEs could ever be.

Still, given the vagueness of it all, I never definitively considered Ms. Sink wrong for the superintendent's job until I read her public response to those LTEs.

Here's what it showed me. Ms. Sink is the kind of leader whose response to a negative situation is to go public, wrap herself in indignation and throw her employees, schools and students under a bus. Instead of first going to the teacher involved, or possibly visiting the kids who wrote the letters and assuring them that they are not to blame, she goes to the blanket email/press release.

Instead of defusing at the school level, she inflames via the media.

As I mentioned above, I might be biased. Just so you know, that bias doesn't extend to the fact Ms. Sink chose to crap on Jefferson MS and a certain teacher there. I don't really even know the teacher directly involved, and I never got that "hometown" gene that makes one defend a school just because one attends or teaches there. Jefferson is fine, but I don't root for it like a basketball team or anything. I don't feel personally besmirched just because Jefferson MS has been allegedly tarnished by this whole thing.

No, all I feel from the whole imbroglio is that Linda Sink is the kind of boss who puts media/public perception over the real needs of schools and their students. We don't have much to go by in her short reign as "Interim Superintendent", but we do know that when a quick decision needed to be made, she decided to fling a poorly written email/press release at the world instead of really dealing with the situation on the ground.

And that's why I think Linda Sink will very likely make a lousy APS Superintendent.


P.S.: This is not to say there isn't plenty more stupid to go around concerning those LTEs. The teacher most definitely did a stupid thing. No doubt about it. The Journal is culpable, too, preying on kids inability to write clean copy (and trust me, the kids involved KNOW who's being laughed at here) to supposedly prove a point. Icky.

In the past I've had student work published and the publishing entity worked very well with me to make sure everybody was happy with the finished product. Seems the Journal no longer plays by those rules. Enjoy "proving" your point o' sleazy ones...just don't expect much from us K-12 folks anytime soon, including trust in what you print.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems the Journal no longer plays by those rules. Enjoy "proving" your point o' sleazy ones...just don't expect much from us K-12 folks anytime soon, including trust in what you print.

Well said Scott. That is exactly what happened. Linda Sink could have known it also if she had asked.
When she was first placed in her position during the Principal shuffle, I didn't have any personal knowledge one way or another. She lost my vote during our first inservice of the year. We were told the Union granted a one year waiver so that APS could run the inservices by cluster. Ms. Sink takes the stage and announces that as long as she is there, this plan will continue. No mention of the Union or the Schools site based management. (SBM, I know, what a joke)
She just came off as a dictator. Her response to the LTE was just as bad.
Thanks for your perspective, and as far as the sleazy journal is concerned, if the Trib was still around, I'd cancel my subscription.
anothermouse

ched macquigg said...

I am wondering if it bothers you at all, that if you take the trouble to go to one of the meetings to meet the candidates;

you will not be allowed to ask any inconvenient questions?

does it bother you that our candidates have refused to be held accountable as role models,

and are now conspiring to keep their competition from stepping up as a role model?

Anonymous said...

Ah, He** Ched ... they would probably all lie just to get the job, anyway. That's how they all made it this far. I find it interesting that Diego, who IS an APS assist. Sup. has a criminal record for stealing a bottle of visine - yet still has a pretty high position in APS. I wonder if teachers get canned for things like that?

AND why in the world, if you're going to steal anything, as a grown adult- you feel the need to steal visine??? I'm sorry, I think there is way more to that story!
I want them to scrap all these candidates and start over. Amazing that this is the best they could find. I think that Dr. Holmquist (sp?) Principal from Chelwood Elementary should have been in this top running.
Renee

ched macquigg said...

You can't lie about it.

The promise puts in motion, wheels that cannot be stopped.

history said...

Although I agree with most of your assessment of our acting superintendent, unfortunately, I'm guessing all the candidates would probably react in a detached, directive type way as L.S. did in the Jefferson letter affair--A good question to bring to the dog and pony show. Many other questions come to mind as well.

johnny_mango said...

The problem with most superintendents is that they have very little experience with early childhood and elementary education. Linda Sink is no exception.

Both the ABQJournal and Linda Sink took advantage of children to score points with the anti-public education crowd. It is no sign of leadership to play 'gotcha' with 12-year-olds.

Nice post, Scot.

Anonymous said...

Both the ABQJournal and Linda Sink took advantage of children to score points with the anti-public education crowd. It is no sign of leadership to play 'gotcha' with 12-year-olds.

Not only that, they took advantage of special ed. children and english language learning children. Hope the Journal and Sink had fun playing Quienes mas macho with them. Doesn't seem like much of a fair fight now does it.