Wednesday, May 02, 2007

You gotta break a few eggs to make a...mess

So what are they talking about?

She's abrasive? OK.

It's her way or the highway? OK.

Get on the bus, or get run over by the bus? That's just modern school management, right? Perhaps.

She may be just what Kentucky needs. We leave that to the collective wisdom of our state board of education. But can we assume the board factored these issues (and others) into their deliberations? Were they presented by the search firm and discussed by the board?

But here's a partial 1990's sampling of "her press clippings."
  • In 1994 dogs were used in Allen TX to conduct unannounced searches of students' lockers and cars at high schools and middle schools twice a month.
  • In 1999, following school shootings in Colorado the Allen Schools announced they would "suspend classes for the rest of the year because of a flurry of bomb scares." Then, they "did an about-face. Parents angry about any early end to the school year gathered and Barbara Erwin said it was never the board's intention to call off the rest of this year's classes. Instead she claimed the misinformation was deliberate - a "carefully worded" announcement to confuse those who were behind the bomb threats. [I'm not making this up.] Erwin told The Dallas Morning News the cancellation announcement was "just a ruse to throw off the pranksters." The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram opined, "Regardless of why Allen school officials announced last week that the district was suspending classes for the rest of the year, it was a terribly flawed decision - one that should not have been made, and one that was made worse by this week's embarrassing announcement of "Oops, never mind." After a storm of nationwide publicity and an outcry from parents, leaders of the suburban district north of Dallas backtracked, saying they never intended to shut down school two weeks early."
  • The Dallas Morning News [May 21, 1999] reported: A 17-year-old student complained that her constitutional rights were violated when she was suspended from school last month for wearing a black armband. Jennifer Boccia, a honors student who serves as a peer tutor for special-education students, said she was one of about 10 students who donned black armbands to protest school policies instituted after the recent Columbine High School shootings in Colorado and to show respect for the victims. The students were ordered to remove the armbands and threatened to suspend them if they did not. Jennifer said that she and two other students continued to wear the armbands, and she spent one day in in-school suspension. Jennifer, who had been studying the right to protest in her government class, said she offered a copy of a 1969 Supreme Court decision upholding the right of students to wear black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam. According to Jennifer, assistant principal Carolyn Thompson was shown a copy of the ruling, turned and calmly put it through a paper shredder in front of her and two other students. "We just sat there, stunned," Jennifer said. "She told us that she was willing to ignore the Constitution to protect students, that we could write it down and she would sign it." Jennifer said that when she appealed to the school's principal, Ira Sparks, she was told, "We will not play this protest game...he said he was above the Constitution." School Superintendent Barbara Erwin declined to comment on the student suspensions. "This is really interesting that 30 years after Tinker v. Des Moines we have a school district that thinks the First Amendment doesn't apply to them," said Ms. Philip of the ACLU.
  • When the long-term award-winning band teachers suddenly quit the Allen program parents were upset. During the tenures of these teachers, Allen High bands were rated superior nearly every year in state competitions. The band was one of a handful selected from hundreds to play in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, in 1994. It marched through Manhattan in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1997. And it was invited to perform at both of Gov. George W. Bush's inaugural ceremonies. "Those are years and years of positives for Allen that you can't go out and buy," one parent said.
    The three teachers said they were forced out by the school district administration for questioning changes in the program. They said changes made behind their backs demoted them, in effect. They said that in previous years, they had been involved in determining what modifications would be made to the band program. District officials said that the teachers were not forced out, that they quit on their own and that they are simply disgruntled former employees.

More later.

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