Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Hillsborough County School Board

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Aug 30, 2007

Originally posted on Half an Hour, August 30, 2007.

I know nothing more about this dispute than what I’ve read here, but this post (Making Sense of the Hillsborough County School Board Tension, by Matthew K. Tabor) is a hatchet job.

It is clear from the valuation, that while two members were critical of Elia’s performance, the remaining five were very strongly in support.

Tabor remarks, “The problems here, however, are less political than with members’ differing commitments to serving the district.”

But this isn’t shown at all in the post, no matter how many times he recites, pointlessly, “203,000 students and over 25,000 personnel.”

The debate is whether Elia is working with the board, or contrary to the interests of the board. Griffin states repeatedly in her comments that “she (Elia) has been unyielding in her dealings with the Board.” But she has the support of the Board - the evaluation makes that clear. There’s no need to be ‘yielding’ because there’s no demand to be yielding - except from Griffin.

Supporting his position, Tabor cites an excerpt from the evaluations, saying “there is no question that her (Griffin’s) reasoning has a solid foundation; she demonstrated that by explaining herself in full and citing relevant statutes to support her argument.” And you comment that it shows, “also the indifference of other board members.”

The small excerpt cited ay demonstrate indifference, but the much more detailed comments found in the full document displays anything but. Edgecomb in particular is volumous, and Olson discusses at length some areas of improvement.

Moreover, though Griffin cites statutes, she doesn’t do so usefully. She states, for example, that it is the duty of the Superintendent to “cooperate” with the school board. This she has evidently done, to judge by the evaluation. Griffin’s argument succeeds only if *she* is the school board - but the statute does not apply to Griffin personally, but to the board taken as a whole.

Griffin’s examples are petty. She complains that the Superintendent routinely presents only one option to the Board. She complains that, although implementation of a certain policy was stipulated in the contract, the Board should have been able to determine *how* the policy was implemented. Yet these - if they are actually a problem for the board (taken as a whole) are very easily dealth with by the board, which can simply vote to reject the proposal or to require two options. Griffin’s problem is with the other board members, but she is taking it out on the superintendent.

It is also - I might add - very demeaning and unprofessional to refer to the superintendent by her first name throughout the evaluation. The complaints read like schoolyard whining. “MaryEllen has displayed a pronounced tendency to conceive a plan with her closest advisors…” “MaryEllen’s approach… can only be described as ‘meeting your own agenda.’” “MaryEllen must learn to forsee the challenges her recommendation may create…” “MaryEllen tends to promote her own vision…” This isn’t criticism. It’s pouting!

The discussion, which occupies most of the second half of the post, of Jennifer Faliero relocation to another district, is so obviously off-topic that it reeks of a personal attack, whether or not Tabor knows any of the participants. It is irrelevant to the issue at hand and is introduced only to discredit one of the five people supporting the superintendent (that four untainted voices nonetheless remain is not considered in your post).

I don’t know what the issues were, I don’t know what the 6/7 plan or FCAT are, and I might well line up against the Superintendent - and with Griffin - politically. I have no idea.

But as I say, this post is not a fair treatment of the matter. It supports Griffin for no good reason - and the last coulple of lines suggest that the motivation was purely partisan, and not based in a reasonable assessment of the issues at all.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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