Cutting Bully Columns
UPDATE 5:05 PM Friday:
See Comment at 5:02 PM today from Bart Hollander, Catherine Sanderson's husband.
#####Catherine Sanderson, as usual, hit a nerve with last week's column in the venerable Amherst Bulletin questioning the glowing evaluation the Regional School Committee bestowed upon Amherst School Superintendent Maria Geryk by highlighting those inconvenient truths about the high cost of education in Amherst with mediocre MCAS results, currently the most failing in over a half-dozen years.
This week's Amherst Bulletin has not one but two columns ganging up on Dr. Sanderson, written by three-out-of-four remaining Amherst School Committee members. Interestingly not a peep from any of the four hilltown committee members who presumably were as offended as the Amherst members. Or maybe Amherst has thin skinned public officials--especially now that Catherine Sanderson and Steve Rivkin are gone.
How dare she point out the rosy report was penned by a Pelham School Committee member with a spouse working under the Superintendent!
Massachusetts public officials--both paid and volunteer--are held to a higher standard. It's not called "conflict of interest", it is called the "appearance of a conflict of interest". Kind of like in criminal cases the evidence must prove "guilt beyond a reasonable doubt" vs. civil cases were it is a "preponderance of the evidence."
And having your volunteer spouse critique your highly paid boss clearly has the appearance of a conflict. The state, however, offers a simple solution: disclosure. You know, that thing called transparency--which we see very little of in Amherst.
Some might even argue appointing a high school student to the school committee smacks of an appearance of a conflict. Although we're told by reporter Nick Grabbe that the teacher was joking, newly appointed school committee member Solomon Goldstein-Rose was greeted with "I'm teaching my boss now" by a teacher at the High School on Tuesday.
Yeah, and you damn well better not give him too much homework!
Both columns use the same lame excuse town officials have relied on for 25 years protecting the Cherry Hill Golf Course: Wait until next year. Katherine Appy even manages to throw in liberals favorite boogeyman to blame, President Bush.
Yes, it takes time to turn around a big ship in a sea of molasses. But other nearby towns navigate in the same sea and seem to do as good a job in a far more cost efficient manner. As President Kennedy once said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." And Amherst has a rising tide of red ink.
Neither counter column answers that nagging question of why our cost per student is by far the highest in the area at $16,413 per student while state average is $13,055. Is it too much to ask why we don't get average adequate yearly progress when we pay 20% above average for our system?
Indeed, nobody likes a critic--especially when they're right!