Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Kentucky Board of Education "responds" to critics in Erwin hiring mess

Since last Wednesday I've been on the run, so this post is about a week late. In the meantime lots of folks have wondered if the Kentucky Board of Education ever responded to concerns raised over the hiring of Barbara Erwin.

They did. Wait 'til you see how.

Critics alleged that Erwin's temperament in office was suspect and her resume could best be described as a mixture of fact and fiction. I made a last ditch (and apparently futile) effort to push the board toward doing the right thing, while providing them a way out, in an article published in last Wednesday's Courier-Journal.

The folks I've talked to wanted the board to ask the hard questions, but also give Erwin the chance to defend herself as she did once before. Alas, Erwin was not present at last week's, no chat. But that did not stop the board from responding.

Unfortunately, the board ignored the situation and followed that time honored tradition of Kentucky politics:

If nobody else will pay you a compliment - pay yourself one.

Chairman Keith Travis offered the following resolution which was passed to the sound of applause from a room full of education bureaucrats who will have to work with Erwin.
Resolution Honoring the Commissioner's Search Committee
The Kentucky Board of Education Commonwealth of Kentucky

Whereas, The Kentucky Board of Education's vision is "Every child-
Proficient and prepared for success";

Whereas, The Commissioner's Search Committee has focused on
the realization of the Board's vision through its search for Kentucky's next commissioner;

Whereas, The Commissioner's Search Committee has dedicated many
hours, at great personal sacrifice, to finding top candidates
for commissioner to recommend to the full Board;

Whereas, The Commissioner's Search Committee has performed at the
distinguished level and exhibited solid leadership in its search
for the next commissioner; and,

Whereas, The Commissioner's Search Committee members are held in
high regard by their colleagues on the Board;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Kentucky Board of Education to declare its gratitude to the Commissioner's Search Committee members, Bonnie Lash Freeman, Chair; C.B. Akins; Jeanne Ferguson; Judy Gibbons and David Webb, and thank them for their outstanding service to the students of this Commonwealth.

Done in the city of Frankfort, this thirteenth day of June, in the year Two Thousand and Seven.

Keith Travis, Chair Kentucky Board of Education
Kevin M. Noland, Interim Commissioner Kentucky Department of Education
The resolution came with hardware for the committee members. Each received a plaque suitable for presentation at their next job interview.

So what does this mean?

The best spin I can put on this event is that it's not over quite yet. I know this sounds like a fairy tale, and I'm not sure I believe it myself, but like I's spin. Since Dr. Erwin was not present, she has not had an opportunity to address the new allegations with the full board. Under normal circumstances she would have a due process right to be heard on the matter before any action could appropriately be taken, or any comments made. Fair is fair.

But the facts in this case also fit an alternate explanation. What if the Board got exactly what they wanted and they didn't care much about how that happened?

For the sake of argument, let's ignore what the board said they wanted in a Commissioner which, perhaps, we can agree they didn't get.

What if what they really wanted was a "hatchet man?"

...someone hired to carry out the disagreeable task of punishing, or if necessary firing, a bunch of Kentucky Department of Education employees - anyone who failed to go along with some new agenda. For example, if present KDE bureaucrats are standing in the way of, say, enhanced school choice options or other Republican principles, won't someone need to get rid of the road blocks before meaningful "progress" can be made?

If that's what the board really wanted, then the search committee deserved every bit of the board's praise. The evidence strongly suggests, that's exactly what they got.


Anonymous said...

We, the used and abused in St. Charles, are hoping that someone will hold Barb Erwin accountable for her devious ways. So far, our new board hasn't. We were hoping that the Kentucky Board would, but apparently not. Our only hope now is that the State's Attorney's office will see her amended contract for what it really was - a last ditch effort to take advantage of a soon-to-be illegal loophole by a board that was afraid to make those terms public in an open meeting. Thanks, Mr. Day, for giving the public a forum for their frustrations.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Erwin is an old pro at making people so miserable they leave.

I could cite dozens of examples from Scottsdale, including classified, certified, and administrative staff.

No one was spared. Not even Board members.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering what did happen to board members in Scottsdale?

Anonymous said...

"I'm wondering what did happen to board members in Scottsdale?"

The same thing she did to Board members in Illinois--if you want to know, ask or talk about something she doesn't want you to know, ask or talk about, she finds a way to keep you quiet.

In Illinois, she got a Board president to publicly demand that Board member Karla Ray should resign.

In Scottsdale, she used attorneys, community members, and other Board members to intimidate Christine Schild into resigning.

She was unsuccessful in both cases.