Editorial: Palo Alto school board in parallel universe
Original post made on May 10, 2013
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 10, 2013, 8:49 AM
on May 10, 2013 at 9:18 am
This article seems to be more praising of the PAUSD Board of Education than the article's tag line seems to suggest. Most of the comments on Weekly blogs seem to show a lot more dissatisfaction with the Board than this editorial reflects.
> There are simply too many times when the school
> board is left needing to fix or re-do the work of
> the staff, and the reasons for that need to be
> understood and fixed.
Is this really true? What examples can the Weekly provide to back up this statement?
> A great strategic plan will not succeed if
> the staff is not capable of doing the work,
> and by now it is obvious that is in question.
There is a huge difference between planning and execution. Given the current academic strengths demonstrated by the Districtwhat exactly is the editorial staff sayingother than they want Kevin Skelly fired?
It's clear that there are all sorts of problems in the PAUSD and the City of Palo Alto government entities. Given that the State Ed.Code (and increasingly the Office of Civil Rights, it would seem) defines virtually every thing that the School Board can do, and the City Charter restricts what the City Council can doaren't we looking at problems imposed on us by those who have created these restraints (the State Legislature and previous City Councils and Palo Alto voters)?
I would also like to suggest that the Brown Act imposes a number of restraints that were originally thought to be "good for open government", but now, in the age of the Internet and digital communicationsputs the brakes on a number of interactions between government policy makers that might be worth rethinking. Between the PAUSD and the CPA, there is over $300M in combined expenses, and increasingly hundreds of millions of dollars of capital expenditures that need "oversight". Sitting in a group meeting once a week for a few hours hardly seems like enough time for adequate "oversight". There needs to be more interaction between the "Trustees" than is currently allowed under Brown.
The decision to hire a Communications Officer was a bad idea, in my opinion. I would much rather have seen that money spent on an Auditor, or contracts for outside Audits, that would help provide more information about the state of the District, as well as meaningful performance Audits of the Measure A funds.
I do agree with the Weekly that we are not seeing the leadership out of Superintendent Skelly that we are paying for.
on May 10, 2013 at 11:25 am
I agree with Wayne about the Comm Officer. If communication is not already a major part of the requirements to be hired as a Super, Asst Super, etc., then what?? There went another 6 figure salary -- buying their way out of a PR problem instead of just doing their jobs better.
I don't envy the Board's work. Similar to teachers, the Board serves a vast majority of silent and satisfied families, along with a loud cadre of over-entitled, under-involved grousers. Don't take blogs or Palo Alto Online as a true indication of public sentiment.
PS: i've seen the McKinsey plan. Patently obvious is what I would call their snazzy work up. We needed to pay consultants to come up with this?? I worked in consulting. They are mostly paid to help organizations say they are "doing something about it." What a shame. More money poorly spent?
on May 10, 2013 at 11:38 am
The staff are very capable of doing their jobs. Unfortunately, often the teachers are shielded from the often over critical parents by the principals and the union. When there is any complaint, they invoke protection mode because they are battle weary from fending off the numerous crazy parents. The result is that when there is a genuine problem, such as bullying, bad teaching, etc., the staff closes ranks and stonewalls the parents. I have been in this position several times as my students go through Palo Alto schools. During this time, I have had to contact the district, perhaps four times about different issues. Almost every time, I got a non response. All the while, I've seen a number of parents who are constantly harassing the staff over every single thing that occurs with their student - a B on a test, a food allergy, a non existent learning problem, a criticism based on the teacher having not practiced that families' religion. Because of the endless whining and complaining by parents like these, anyone with a real issue is stonewalled along with the rest. I do not blame the staff for this. I blame the self important helicopter parents. The current witch hunt by a relatively small number of individuals continues to deflect attention from this systemic problem, allowing it to flourish. Again, this is not the fault on any one or two administrators or teachers. The district is under siege and acts accordingly.