Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let the record show; and a response

On Dec 23, 2010, at 10:54 AM, Debbie Westmoreland wrote:

Dear Mr. Aronson:

Thank you for bringing your concerns about the minutes of the December 21st Amherst School Committee meeting to my attention. As you know, minutes are not a transcript; but rather require a synopsis of any discussion that takes place at the meeting. I always attempt to capture the primary concern of the speaker when summarizing public comments. I believe you read from a prepared statement at the meeting. If you are willing to provide a copy to me, the minutes can state that you requested after the meeting that your comments be attached to the record (rather than having me try again to summarize your statement).

I do feel the need to address your statement "If the synopsis provided happens to be a deliberate misrepresentation, then these minutes are as disingenuous as Ms. Woodland's proclamation of 22 September and make a mockery out of any public comments received during School Committee meetings." I consider my job as the keeper of the public records for the Amherst, Pelham and Amherst-Pelham School Committees to be one of the most important aspects of my position and would never deliberately misrepresent anything discussed at a meeting. In serving under four different Superintendents/Co-Superintendents, I have always remained impartial in the recording of minutes--attempting to ensure that all discussions are portrayed accurately. I agree wholeheartedly that public records must be accurate and am dismayed at your suggestion that I would deliberately misrepresent them. If you have concerns about my job performance in the future, I request that you bring them to the attention of the Superintendent.


Debbie Westmoreland
Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent

On 12/23/10 11:35 AM, "Michael Aronson" wrote:

Dear Ms. Westmoreland,

I am not questioning the quality of your job performance. As you may note, I suggest that the speed at which I speak perhaps impaired your ability to hear all that I had to say. The sole request I have is for you to revise your notes to reflect what was said. Feel free to use the email sent yesterday to inform your minutes.

What I observe is that upon recording others' comments - especially those similar to that of Ms. Woodland that provide glowing assessments of the interim superintendent - there seems to be no limit on the detail provided. But as I noted in my comments, Ms. Woodland's comments are colored by both her conflict of interest and Ms. Geryk's failure to clarify the nature of those conflicts. The focus of my comments was an ethical breach and fiduciary irresponsibility, yet this is not reflected in the minutes. My concern is that comments critical of administrative practice are not being fully aired. That harms public welfare.

I understand that in the highly politicized environment inside the District at this time there is a lot of pressure - not the least of which is on you. The fact that the event I described occurred and is easily documented, clearly shows this.

Please do not interpret my comments as an attack on your integrity - which I do not question. Should I have offended you in any way please accept my apologies. My comments were not focused on the messenger.

I remain committed to being represented accurately in the minutes. Thank you for your efforts in this regard.

Best regards,

Michael Aronson


Anonymous said...

To Ms. Westmoreland: You go, Girl!!

To Mr. Aronson, attach your printed text and be done with it. Don't ask her to revise.

Ed said...

Would someone please explain to me how someone with no teaching certificate, no classroom teaching experience, no experience supervising classroom teachers as either a department chair or principal, no experience supervising department chairs and building principals, and absolutely no educational leadership courses qualified to be a superintendent?

Forget that she doesn't have a doctorate in anything, forget that she doesn't have a MBA (most superintendent jobs in her pay range require both an EdD and MBA), she doesn't even have a relevant BA. She doesn't even have a teaching certification...

She never wrote a thesis. Go to the DuBois library and go look -- there isn't one.

All she has for an education are classes in Special Ed and Social Justice. Oh, wait, this is Amherst where Social Justice theory superceedes competence....

Ed said...

Let me go one step further: I who have a teaching certificate and who have taught in a classroom, am more qualified to be superintendent than she is.

I have the same two degrees that she has, and from the same school. Like her, mine are in things other than "how to be a superintendent" (ie Educational Leadership & Administration).

We both have the same pieces of paper hanging on the wall, and I have one more. And I am not qualified for that job. So what makes her qualified?

Seriously folks, this is a serious question worthy of a serious answer. If you think the woman is qualified to be superintendent, and if you think that education credentials are important (and those of us in the education field sorta do) then how do you address the glaring conflict between these two things?

Do degrees count - or is UMass nothing but a shell game? And how is she going to tell the 16-year-old to stay in school and get his degree when she didn't get hers???

And why should we require teachers to have certain levels of education in certain things if there is no need for the superintendent to also have this?


Anonymous said...

Apply for the job, chump.

Roach patrol said...

Because Ed, this is Scamhurts where they will fuck you until you stop them,


"Don't ask her to revise."

1:45 how about you mind your own god damned business, ~girl~.


Let Michael ask whatever the fuck he wants to. It's HIS tax dollars paying THEIR salaries. WTF is wrong with you?

Anonymous said...

I think you are all missing a key point:

The state has a very strict code of ethics. The UMASS professor got a $96,000 no-bid contract from Maria Geryk. While that professor was negotiating that $96,000 no bid contract, she was publicly praising Maria Geryk without ever disclosing the fact of the $96,000 no bid contract.

The town should be up in arms about this and the state ethics people should investigate it.

Anonymous said...

Well then stop staring at yourself in the mirror cross-eyed and god damned report it, moron.

Anonymous said...

"If you have concerns about my job performance in the future, I request that you bring them to the attention of the Superintendent."


Better yet, bring them, in writing, to Kathy Mazur. Her shredder has a most incredible appetite...

Anonymous said...

Hey, Roach, good to hear from ya! Just bought a new can of Raid.

It's also my tax dollars. He did ask. He got his response.

Anonymous said...

Look, which way do you want it? Geryk's doing a great job, but she's home grown so you bitch and moan, so go ahead and spend a hundred grand to hire the next out-of-towner that will waste a ton of money doing studies, reorganizing, and then quit during the school year.

Ed said...

Geryk's doing a great job, but she's home grown so you bitch and moan,

I am asking a very simple question: what are her qualifications to do ANY KIND of job?

There are three possible answers. First, you don't need a college degree to be a superintendent and thus why do you need a college degree for anything? Why do we need colleges -- is this the bottom falling out of the Higher Ed market? (Goodby Amherst...)

Second, she is not qualified and hence simply can't be "doing a good job."

Or third, she is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and hence isn't really human and thus doesn't need an education as she is an all-knowing deity....

On a more serious note, if education is important, then she isn't qualified because she doesn't have it -- on the other hand, if she *is* qualified, then education isn't important (and heaven help Amherst if that is true...)

So, folks, which is it? Is UMass stealing money from students for graduate degrees that have no value (which it may well be doing) or is she simply not qualified (which I truly want to believe because I will have a doctorate in 12 months and truly want it to mean something...)

Folks, it is one or the other, arguing both is kettle pleading.

Ed said...

Larry -- completely unrelated -- when will you or someone advocate for the Amherst Police and explain that the reason why they arrest all the UM kids while ignoring the drug dealers can be reduced to just two words: "no backup."

Now there is a lot not being said because I drove past this Khol's store 10-15 minutes later, and all the ambulances & police cars were upwards of a mile downrange -- with the way road conditions are, I thought it a bad wreck and with flashing red lights on both side of the road in the midst of a sea of blue lights, I diverted (BEYOND the Khol's store).

I had never seen so many blue lights in my life! I saw probably 75-100 police cars (with blues on) and I was diverting around it -- and I saw a MSP unit coming down I-93 with lights & siren and maybe going 35 MPH -- without the snow there would likely have been double the cops there on backup.

Compare this to the *MAYBE* dozen officers that an APD officer would get. So I understand why they harass the UM students while ignoring the drug dealers, but why do we permit this situation to continue? Who is running this town -- the cops or the drug gangs???

On an individual basis, I can't say I blame the officers -- they have families to go home to and such. But do we not have social priorities??? I have lost count of the number of sawed-off shotguns found (usually by children) in South Amherst...

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Anonymous said...

To Ed,

Apparently you are really hung up on the paper diplomas and degrees. They do not, repeat, do not, equal competence. Well, Mr. Ed, all the qualifications in the world doesn't make up for a lousy superintendent, or lousy anything. Just ask us parents of children in Leverett and Shutesbury Elementary schools.

You can sign me "parent of a Leverett Elementary School student."

Anonymous said...

A. It's not a job requirement.

B. She's doing a good job.

C. What part of that do you not get?

Dale said...

I agree with Anon 8:45.
It seems that in this are, there is a core group of individuals that think as soon as the ink dries on their degree they somehow become qualified to do any job related to their degree.
In many cases yes, they have obtained the "Book Smarts" but some don't have the common sense to even leave campus. There is a ton to be said for life experience. We have in fact tried the "Out of Town" extremly expensive Search groups and have failed on numerous occasions, but as usual we don't learn to try something different and we just keep trying the same experiment with the same results. This is done by a group of "quaified" individuals probably with degrees of one form of another. So, why not give Maria a try, what do we have to lose? We can save the money we spent on the search committee, and if we support her like we supported the past misfits. We will only lose the money in the contract that the Phd. educated people wrote and approved that only set the town up for failure with the last choice we lost to Michigan.

Best Regards,

Roach patrol said...

"So, why not give Maria a try, what do we have to lose? We can save the money we spent on the search committee, and if we support her like we supported the past misfits."

What we have here is a perfect example of a gen-u-ine ~moron~.

No one's buying the lies anymore, "Dale".

The mob, is getting taken down.

"A pervasive sense of complacency fueled by a culture of nepotism and cronyism."

Do you understand?

Now, how bout a cookie?

Anonymous said...

Um, you are quoting someone that used his sick time as if it was vacation time and then bailed before the school year was over. Quitters always have excuses, it's never their fault.

Dale said...

Good points! And I agree Roach we do need to shake the Amherst Merry Maple till all the deadwood falls off. I do plead my ignorance as I don't really know allot about Maria. I guess my point was more focused on the thought that some people think without a degree you are not able to do a job that requires intelligence in this town. Maria may not be the best choice and maybe not a choice at all. All I can hope for is we start learning from the errors we have made in the past few years. I would love to see Amherst raise its standards to the level some of the elite think it already has.

Thank you for the feedback!


Roach partol said...

"Um, you are quoting someone that used his sick time as if it was vacation time and then bailed before the school year was over. Quitters always have excuses, it's never their fault."

I'm sure the money syndicate thanks you for your support, from the bottom of their black, tumor hardened hearts.

And please, tell them to enjoy it while they can, will you? The tit is drying up, even as we speak...

Anonymous said...

Right! Sure! The school budget will be slashed. Now who is living in fantasyland?

Roach patrol said...

Then watch as they stick their suctioning mouth parts into your bank account and siphon your hard earned dollars away from you and your family each and every time you pay your taxes. WTF do I care? You're the one living in fantasy land, paralyzed...

BTW, you should see how beautiful a 100k a year dinner party table looks... So so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Bach, is that you?

Ed said...

No one answered my question -- if a degree is not necessary, should the institutions granting these unnecessary degrees (i.e. UMass) be shut down?

This is the question that the Maria G Fan Club simply can not answer because most of them are somehow associated with UMass and how can they say that the degrees they are charging people for are worthless?

And if they are, then how can they keep charging people for them?

Folks, is or is not the EdD of any merit? This is like being pregnant, you can't have it both ways -- either no one needs it (and you should be unemployed) or Maria G needs it and ain't got it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe no one answered your question, Ed, because no one cares what you think.

Anonymous said...

The EdD is a joke of a degree and everyone knows it. I don't know anyone that takes it seriously. There are so many bogus EdDs that it gets very little respect. You might as well have a doctorate in bowling.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe no one answered your question, Ed, because no one cares what you think."

No, it sounds like no one cares what YOU think.

I'm sorry.

Ed said...

I am asking a serious question to people whom I know are far to the left of me: does higher education have any merit at all? The somewhat-conservative Pope Center has an interesting article alleging that it does not:

This goes into the three issues that the teacher union and education "professionals" fight with passion: Charter Schools, Home Schooling and Alternative Certification (and waiver of certification for retired military officers).

As an aside, why do we pay teachers more for advanced degrees, including doctorates, if they are worthless? Imagine the savings to the ARSD if we kicked everyone back down to the BA pay scale....

The very people who are supporting Maria G are the very same people who argue that because of their educations they are the experts to whom we should listen to about education.

You are being logically inconsistent here -- hiring Maria G without an EdD is saying that the right wing is right on education...

Dale said...

Ed, I don't think anyone thinks an education is worthless (although I do question some degrees). But, if you think you are going to take your degree and walk out to the real world and be turn key to any industry, your living in a world of disenchantment. Your degree only prepares you for things to come and you will still have years of learning in the field. In many cases people have been out in the field long enough where they have developed enough skills that they the ability to perform on the job equally as well as the person with the degree. Until a person hits the main stream and proves themselves in the field, then yes all the degrees in the world are nothing more than wallpaper. Everyone that is well known in the world that has a degree has done something more than waved it around stating "I have a PhD so I must be smarter than you". As in your case I have no doubt you have a lot of knowledge on certain subjects, but I don't know if you have the ability to function within my company, as I have never heard of you short of this blog. So what is your niche that makes you stick out from the sea of other canidates that graduate with little or no work experience? I'm not defending Maria, but I have been doing some homework and she does appear to know a little about how the school system functions. What I don't know is does she have the ability or want to change the "same ole, Same ole" attitude that many have become comfortable with.

Anonymous said...


"The Integration of Visual Media Via Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Into the Elementary Schools Culminating as a Teacher Aid to Achieve Increased Learning."

Bill Cosby
Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) 1977 from the University of Massachusetts

End of story.

Anonymous said...

Do people actually think that this grossly under qualified M.G. thing is an isolated occurrence?

"A pervasive sense of complacency fueled by a culture of nepotism and cronyism."

My friends guess again guess again...

Anonymous said...

See the analog to Ms. Geryk's career in the character of Lionel Logue, played beautifully by Geoffrey Rush, in the new movie, "The King's Speech".

Once the King realizes that "Doctor Logue" has no training or credentials as a speech therapist, I immediately thought of our own "Doctor Geryk".

Michael Aronson said...
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Michael Aronson said...
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Michael Aronson said...
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Michael Aronson said...

Larry and bloggers,

I have been out of town and not seen this response until tonight (12/28).

While I think my concerns are real, and feel that the administration is orchestrating its own perpetuation,I do not condone some of the strong language in reply. I encourage those of you who share my concerns to use this as a forum for discussion rather than condemnation.

My central question focuses on ethical lapses by this administration.

I encourage all who feel strongly to contact their elected officials on the SC - Rhodes, Hood, Sanderson, Rivkin and Spence with their concerns.

My concerns, and those of others in our community, are based in real problems, especially:

1) Conflicts of interest like that I cite in my original comments;
2) Irresponsible financial management - examples of which are rife in the management of the system;

To Anonymous of 12/26 - I suggest you, as a member of the steering committee on the Community Supported Education blog should follow your own posting guidelines and publicly state who you are.

My intention of having the minutes changed is that they do not reflect the reality of an interested taxpayer to root out conflict of interest in current administration of our schools.

Perhaps you, like Ms. Woodland are a beneficiary of Ms. Geryk's publicly funded generosity. Given what we know about contracting and administrative hires that have taken place over the last several months (post override) this is a real concern. Tell us who you are so we respond to you with the clarity you deserve.

To anon 4:19. I appreciate your enthusiasm. However I should point out that the no-bid contract was signed before Woodland testified in Sept.

What I found troubling was that the contract's mission (presumably written by Geryk and Woodland) called for training the Interim in critical job responsibilities - yet the contract's beneficiary testified as a private citizen that the Interim was a superlative example of Superintendency.

There was a moral failure with both the contractor and Ms. Geryk who failed to inform the governing board of their relationship at the time of the testimony.

What is wrong with that picture ?
1) that someone is not telling the truth? or
2) that they are telling the truth and the contract is a sham? or
3) that the Interim did not personally declare the conflict of interest? or
4) that a no bid contractor is advocating the immediate hire by a publicly elected body (the RSC) without sharing their personal economic interest ?

Finally - I agree that the town should be up in arms. I believe residents are unaware of the problems that exist.(Encourage the Gazette to report on this story.)

continued below

Roach patrol said...

Fire M.G.