Friday, March 14, 2014

High Cost Of Blarney Blowout

Crowds on North Pleasant Street (note white pepper ball shot residue in road)

Besides the untold damage to the reputation of UMass Amherst, the flagship of higher education in Massachusetts, the Blarney Blowout also had real implications for hard pressed taxpayers who fund both town first responder services and UMass Amherst.

The recently announced "comprehensive review" contract awarded to former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis has a budget "up to $160,000," so we kind of know what that final bill will be.

I asked a grumpy UMass source how that much money could be so quickly consigned without a somewhat time consuming bid proposal and she replied, "By policy the University can sole source a contract."

Okay, fair enough, but that looks like it's limited to between $5,000 and $25,000 which $160,000 would seem to top that by a bit.

But at least the University did not ask the town to contribute half,  as they did recently with a  "town/gown consultant" to help map a strategy of mutual growth over the foreseeable future.  That contract has a top end limit of $60,000 with each entity paying half and was bid out in the normal somewhat time consuming Request For Proposals manner.

Chief Livingstone (white cap) assists officer with arrest

APD Chief Scott Livingstone had to muster all hands on deck to deal with crowd control starting well before noon, with the first arrest clocking in at 10:18 a.m .  At an over time cost to his department of $12,500 plus another $1,300 for indispensable Dispatch.

Plus the $160,000 "review" will tie up more of his time and that of his top brass.

And since the finished report -- which will not result in any formal charges of police brutality -- isn't due until graduation time, the Amherst Police Department will be operating these next few months under a dark cloud.

And that's bad for all of us.


Anonymous said...

I noticed that the pepper shot residue is pointed in three different directions, which would sorta indicate that it was fired from three different directions.

So in which one of those three directions did the officers wish the students to go???

Larry Kelley said...

North back to campus.

The officers were shooting at almost point blank range down into the road so the angle didn't matter much, the gas wafted straight up.

In fact the Chief and I both got a whiff.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen any pictures of police without riot gear. Saw a quote from Livingstone that it wasn't donned until the crowd got out of hand, meaning that they didn't provoke (by taking an overly aggressive stance from the start), but were provoked. You were there the whole time, I presume. Do you have any pre-riot gear shots?

Anonymous said...

Point-blank range goes in all directions. Those hit at an angle.

Larry Kelley said...

So what, pray tell, do you deduce?

Tom Porter said...

I happened to visit both University of Virginia and University of Vermont campuses this week. I had three exchanges - two at UVA and one at UVM - that went exactly like this:

(Me:) "I'm from Amherst, Massachusetts."
"Oh, where UMass is?"
"Yes, that's right."
"Blarney Blowout!!" (laughter)

Very sad for Amherst, a fine town that is allowing its reputation to be re-cast so negatively.

Larry Kelley said...

And five months from now the response will be, "The town that refuses to fly commemorative American flags on 9/11." (Stern glare)

Anonymous said...

Geesh Larry give it a rest already.

Larry Kelley said...

Just getting warmed up.

Ralph Reed said...

A short vignette from my experience as a "quality of life" problem-drinker in Baltimore to underline a point(not so close to home):

In the fall of 2000 I chose to leave my family after a tragedy to hit the streets of Baltimore, choosing Fells Point, a developing waterfront mix of ethnic settlement, old Baltimore, and bar/restaurants. I was arrested for the first time for urinating in broad daylight in a flower urn, which unbeknownst to me had been placed there to commemorate a police officer killed in the line of duty. When I was released from Baltimore City Jail I complained about them not returning my cigarette gear and lighter and was told that it was policy to throw them out. Upset, I walked back to the scene of the crime and started to dig in a trashcan--my M.O. was to scavenge for food, liquor, and aluminum by this point--and at the bottom of this can I saw my tobacco tin that turned out to contain my tobacco and lighter. Relieved, because obviously the Baltimore Police had placed it there out of sympathy or as a message, I went back to my alcoholic, overly eccentric shtick.

But someone wasn't pleased because often the police would roust me or hold me up after calls. On most occasions there was no legitimate reason for it, because I didn't panhandle and did my part being relatively neat and picking up litter. I soon grew sick of the harassment, while I was never arrested it wasn't something anyone wants to grow accustomed to, police harassment. But who was calling them?

One night I went looking for a talk by Spike Lee in a different neighborhood. After getting lost I was picking a trashcan around midnight--in this particular one I found some excellent still-warm, barely touched barbeque ribs and an older African-American gentleman approached me while I was eating them and told me of a place nearby where a homeless guy could sleep under an awning and get a free breakfast in the morning. He commiserated with me when I told him of my plight with getting pushed around Fells Point. A week later I left Fells Point and found the place he described, in a "black" area(the city was mostly very segregated) and for the next six years it was my "home." I did have a few interactions with the police, but always as a "citizen."

My point is twofold. Neighborhood politics play out sometimes in strange ways on the police dispatch line. From personal experience Amherst has this in spades. The police bear the brunt of this when it occurs.

In my case the BCP were able to communicate their lack desire to victimize me and I was able to respond and become a valued member of the community eventually, in spite of being a homeless bum.

I am concerned the Amherst Police are overly politicized and defensive, caught between Town and Gown. A puritanical attitude won't help and a realization that at the end of a dispatch call may be a citizen asking for help, but can also be someone sick with the desire to hurt someone or feel important to the world.

Larry Kelley said...

That's why police officers undergo training.

And Amherst Police officers are highly trained.

Kurt Geryk said...

The APD should consult with the town's teachers and school administrators on techniques for operating under a "dark cloud". They face daily and unrelenting criticism, evaluation and questioning for nearly every action and decision, from parents, the media, bloggers and their crazy cowardly anons, outside consultants and reviews (ALL the time,) sometimes members of the SC, and town (and not in town) residents in general, and yes, top school personnel get tied up ALL the time complying with "review" requirements". Somehow, the teachers and school administrators are able to keep up morale and go to work every day for our kids, and perform the duties they have and continue to receive the best training for. (Not that I have any doubt the APD will be able to handle this effectively. Oh, and by the way, Thank You teachers and Thank You law enforcement officers.)

I wonder if anyone has any ideas about why that double standard exists when it comes to our willingness to constantly scrutinize ARPS teachers and school officials compared to our APD cops and brass. It seems to me morale and public support may be equally important in both organizations.

Larry Kelley said...

Probably because -- in Amherst anyway -- teachers do not put their physical safety on the line day in and day out, as do members of the APD and AFD.

Get a grip Kurt.

Could be you're a tad conflicted, being the the husband of the highly paid School Superintendent and all.

Kurt Geryk said...

Oh, now I get it.

Larry Kelley said...

About time.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kurt. Maybe if we backed up the teachers and administrators in the early grades and taught proper behavior we wouldn't have this bad behavior at the college level.

Larry Kelley said...

Not so sure that's what Kurt was saying, but okay ... whatever.

Kurt Geryk said...

All facetiousness aside, what I was saying is:

I agree that we should not subject our cops and brass to the sorts of barrages of criticism, unsolicited evaluation, the daily, nasty rhetoric that our teachers and administrators in Amherst receive: we agree there, that would decrease morale and full operating ability among some of our most important town personnel who put their lives on the line daily;

but why DO we subject the teachers and admin to that sort of behavior? Aren't we concerned about diminishing morale in the schools? About operating at decreased capacity? Just because their lives are not at risk doesn't mean that constant public scrutiny--and I'm talking about the mean, angry kind--is warranted, or will not result in decreased efficiency.

My personal opinion--and not just as the spouse of an ARPS administrator, but as the son of two former teachers, nephew of several former teachers, former classmate of current teachers in post-bac teacher cert classes (a long time ago,) former co-workers at the elementary school I worked in (also a LONG time ago,) current friend of many teachers in and out of Amherst...

...teachers and school personnel are an easy target and an easy scapegoat. I know superintendents, teachers, staff from many other school systems in MA, and their communities do not subject them to the type of invective given and received here daily in Amherst. Probably because they know that to do so would potentially result in a diminished product for them and their kids.

You know, physical health and safety is very important, but so is social and psychological health.

Larry Kelley said...

We have the highest paid administrators this side of Boston, ten times as many making over $85,000 per year than Northampton.

Public criticism goes with the (lucrative) territory.

Kurt Geryk said...

(And the next time a principal leaves one of our schools after one or two years some people in Amherst will wonder "Why can't THEY keep principals in THEIR schools?")

Kurt Geryk said...

Again Larry, I'm not talking about normal and warranted scrutiny and questions and evaluations of our staff and administration. Do I really need to pull out examples for you of the type of behavior I'm talking about here in Amherst?

Larry Kelley said...

Part of the hiring scenario I would imagine.

Try to pick candidates who can deal with the general public. Not too much to ask.

Kurt Geryk said...

But back to the question: does the nasty invective and unwarranted types of criticism, which has become par for the course here in Amherst, (especially online,) result in a better "education" product for our kids and residents? Or does it have the same kind of impact we want to avoid by not subjecting our cops to it?

Also, I'm not just talking about well-paid administrators who receive the constant bull, I'm also talking about ESP's, first year teachers, bus drivers...

Larry Kelley said...

To answer both your questions: No.

Don't even try to suggest ARPS gives a damn about bus drivers, or electricians for that matter.

Kurt Geryk said...

Did I forget to mention the young kids of administrators who get brought into the fray?

Larry Kelley said...

Or former School Committee member's who ran a blog.

Michael Hootstein said...

Larry & Kurt,
I applaud you both for having the courage to speak out in defense of family and country, and I believe your positions can be reconciled. Our police departments, school administrators, teachers and staff all deserve our respect and support. At the same time, government needs to be more mindful of respecting our individual rights and liberties and not abusing its power.

Anonymous said...

" Probably because they know that to do so would potentially result in a diminished product for them and their kids."

With your wife in charge we already have a diminished product, you can't take a good system down with complaints, poorly run systems simply garnish more complaints. Even well run systems get a few complaints but the volume of complaints against Amherst schools and specifically your wife's lack of ability as a leader speak volumes.

Moral already sucks in Amherst because of the leadership. Your logic is to blame the parents for a poorly run school system. Teachers will privately tell you how much the system sucks but in this day and age we need a job and unfortunately must work in a system that is overpaid at the administrative level and clueless at the educational level.

You don't see the same volume of complaints in other systems simply because other systems are not run as shitty as is the Amherst school system is run. Of course your wife is in charge so you'll do what you can to convince us it's not her doing, but what else would you do?

Money put into a successful school system is important but it's not the only thing that matters. School safety and discipline matter a lot too. Teacher quality matters a lot, both what you have and what you hire. Support from parents and the surrounding community matters a lot to. A culture of learning that stresses individuals and not averages matters a lot. Most important you need good leadership in the schools, focused on the basics, and a administration that is transparent and open to ideas and communicates well with parents and the system.

Your wife chooses to hide in her office and offers passive methods of reaching her with the slogan "My office is open". Who would want to visit someone like that (rhetorical). It's the equivalent of blacking out a stores windows and putting up a big sign that says "Open".

There are some very well run school systems in Western Massachusetts, some of them a stones throw away, but Amherst is nowhere near the top of that list. Mediocrity is the word that best describes Amherst schools and how they are run. Your wife is the key reason why at this point and only when she leaves or is asked to leave will the true gravity of her incompetency be realized. Only then will we really be able to ask ourselves, what the hell were they thinking.

So you can spend your days asking yourself why everyone is "ganging up" on your wife. Why "parents chose" to make this a bad school system, why negativity is the "evil root of it all", and all the other thoughts of denial, but there is one thorn that is preventing Amherst schools from reaching their potential and that thorn is Maria Geryk.

Take this and all the other attempts to speak about the reality of the Amherst school system as personal attacks if you choose and deflect them as much as you want but the reality is you can't see the writing on the wall because this is your wife and it's too close to home.

Anonymous said...

Kurt wonders" if anyone has any ideas about why that double standard exists when it comes to our willingness to constantly scrutinize ARPS teachers and school officials compared to our APD cops and brass.

May I suggest that educators made the mistakes a century ago that police are making now - and that only now are LEOs routinely deal with now.

Probably because -- in Amherst anyway -- teachers do not put their physical safety on the line day in and day out, as do members of the APD and AFD.

Larry, have you ever driven a school bus or been a classroom teacher? You wouldn't be saying that as glibly as you do if you had. Trust me...

The Voodoo Scientsts say that stress (including PTSD) comes not from violence but helplessness -- and while there are a lot of jobs more *dangerous* than police work (it is only the 10th most dangerous), the stress comes from the inability to act. Teaching is similar in this manner -- and while you only occasionally have guns waved at you (I only had that happen twice), you don't have one like the cop does.

You will see police officers soon held to the scrutiny of teachers -- and it will be because, like teachers, they didn't police their own.

Larry Kelley said...

Comparing teachers with police is like, well, comparing teachers with police.

Kurt Geryk said...

Thanks Michael.

Kurt Geryk said...

I also meant to say thanks for comprehending and responding to the things I actually say and not to what I don't.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1128,
Can you name some of the districts in Western MA that are well run? Where the parents are universally happy?

Anonymous said...

Aren't we concerned about diminishing morale in the schools?

Mustn't hurt Maria's feelings...

About operating at decreased capacity?

So even if ALL the parents pull their kids out to charter schools, private schools and/or home schooling -- you'll STILL have the same organization & budget? Talk about a sense of entitlement!!!

Kurt, it doesn't work that way -- you have no right to count on the enrollment of children whose parents choose to send them elsewhere -- your enrollment is what it is and not what it statistically could be.

constant public scrutiny--and I'm talking about the mean, angry kind--is warranted

Really? I presume that the kind, meek & compassionate kind of scrutiny is highly effective then?

Or in other words, the AFD doesn't use the air horn when they don't need to (hopefully, as that air is also their brakes) but when people ignore the lights & siren, then they have to.

Kurt, people appear mean because nice doesn't work anymore, and they are angry and for good reasons. You are damn lucky it was Catherine Sanderson who was elected to the SC and not me because things would have been a little bit more colorful, at the very least.

For that matter, you all are damn lucky "Justin" isn't my son because -- well, no, I can't say but I'm sure you heard bits and pieces about it, perhaps without even realizing it.

You know, physical health and safety is very important, but so is social and psychological health

Would you consider that applicable to students as well?

Ever consider the possibility that some some of the "anger" is coming from the parent's own (past) K-12 experiences and that they are saying "never again" and are attempting to defend their children from that which they endured?

Anonymous said...

Can you name some of the districts in Western MA that are well run? Where the parents are universally happy?

First, might I suggest that parents are not the only constituent of a school system? Over half the taxpayers don't have children in the system, yet they have valid interests and concerns, as do the merchants (Cinda wants employees who can read & count & such) and others.

Second, I must say that this was true in the late 1990s ==> don't know about now -- but back then Belchertown concurrently had both one of the highest MCAS scores and one of the lowest per-pupil spending in the state.

I'd kinda call that "well run."

Anonymous said...

Comparing teachers with police is like, well, comparing teachers with police.

"Teacher salaries are now starting to rise -- they now are approaching those of prison guards, whose jobs they are largely replacing."

-- Jay Leno, Tonite Show, Circa 1991

Anonymous said...

Can you name some of the districts in Western MA that are well run? Where the parents are universally happy?


Pioneer Charter School which ranks #39 in Mass. Go ask parents about complaints. I know numerous families that left Amherst for PVC and told me they are so happy they did.

And I have friends from Hadley #100, Hatfield #106 and Conway #107, Longmeadow #69, Frontier #115, and Shutesbury #126 who say they are very happy. Amherst doesn't rank near any of these schools. Considering how much money is put into eduction in Amherst I'd expect more. One need not go far to hear the plethora of complaints about Maria Geryk and the dysfunctional system she has created.

With results like these it's no wonder Geryk hides:

Anonymous said...

I can tell you from the inside that central office continues to grow and the schools staffing continues to shrink. Most of those in central office think all they have to do is tell the rest of us how important those $100K per year jobs are, and that we believe them. Not too bright are they?

Yep, enrollment is shrinking folks so we have to cut some positions, every year for the past ten years. And if anyone looks at central office in that same period you'll see the growth. Look at how much HR spends to get principals who stay for 1 year before getting promoted to central office.

Serious waste all across the CO budget, every year!

Anonymous said...

Oh yea. Let's all move to Belchertown or Hadley or Hatfield where the schools are so great! Does anyone know of anyone from Amherst who is actually choicing into those schools? No you say? How about does anyone know anyone from those 3 towns who are choicing into Amherst? I'm willing to bet the answer is a resounding yes. I can think of one family from Hadley right now.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

The issues with the Amherst schools are long-standing, and have gotten worse over time. When I arrived on the SC in 2008, outside independent reports revealed serious problems with special education (a program ran by the current superintendent), an ineffective middle school in terms of academic challenge, and consistent concern K to 12 with the math program. These aren't problems in all districts ... and they aren't problems created by parents who are concerned about the education their kids receive. And what makes these problems so disturbing to many parents in Amherst is that the Amherst schools are very, very expensive to run. If you have cheap schools and cheap taxes, you are obviously going to have some problems (e.g., large class sizes). But at the cost of the schools in Amherst, the consistency of major problems is concerning for many parents and tax payers. That is an issue I was not fully aware of before being elected to the SC, and it is the major reason I pushed (at some great personal cost) for the closure of Marks Meadow.

And although many like to complain about the parents in Amherst, parents everywhere are concerned about the schools their children attend and many parents don't have the luxury of time and money to opt out of public schools. The vast majority of parents aren't complaining about teachers: they are complaining about much larger issues about how schools are run and the quality of education/curriculum provided (this isn't about the teachers' competence or dedication; it is much broader). These concerns of parents are often echoed by concerns of teachers in the schools (who can't speak openly given their own concerns about job security; I learned a ton from private calls and emails from teachers expressing such concerns, but again, they can't be open or public about their own observations about the problems in our schools). Finally, many parents know that recent principal departures are not at all due to noisy parents' concerns "driving out these principals"; the reason behind many departures is well known to many people in this community, assuming I would have to believe Kurt. And it has NOTHING to do with parents.

Walter Graff said...

Thank you Catherine. You are on the money. There are many talent teachers in the schools who have to bite there tongue every day. Speak to them privately and you will see the same concerns as may parents and taxpayers and that is an over-bloated administration with a very disorganized agenda that does not address the important needs of the children in eduction, but rather their own and state proposed directions that are not a good solution for our children.

Every teacher I speak to is against most of what the administration pushes down their throat, some even quietly deifying what they are told to do because they know it is in the best interest of the children. I've never known a teacher who was worth their paycheck to not want what is best for their kids, first and foremost. Amherst has many of these teachers and I'm glad for their love and dedication, but it has an embarrassment of an administration that is run by someone who never taught a class so fails to understand what a teacher is and what it means.

Already one of three choices for principle of Fort River has dropped out, and instead of the administration going back, stopping the clock and adding a third we now have two to choose from. I hope one does not get work elsewhere soon or we will be told we only have one to choose from.

In the end it will not matter because if whomever they pick raises any feathers, they will get rid of them quickly, making up a story for why they left, and if they follow the rules that lucky person will get an office job for their loyalty.

The question to ask these candidates is simple, will you fight for what you believe in and what is best for the education of the children of Amherst. If the answer is yes, they will never last a year in Amherst with Maria Geryk at the helm.

Thankfully the people of Amherst are finally waking up to the elephant in the room.

Walter Graff

Kurt Geryk said...

I appreciate your perspective Catherine.

Larry Kelley said...

Sarcasm requires its own special font.

Kurt Geryk said...

To the commentators who have signed their names:

Setting aside our obvious different perspectives on current school leadership, I wonder if you have an opinion on the issue I brought up that started this thread...

I saw where one member of the AFD wrote online that former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis' being called out to do a review is a "farce". He said the solution to the problem is "you disperse when a cop tells you to disperse" and that's all we need to know. I've seen several other similar sentiments online (mostly Larry's fb friends.)

Why wouldn't the opportunity to have an expert with an outside point of view come and review the events of last Saturday's Blowout, and potentially help our APD be even better at what they do, at no cost to us, be considered a positive opportunity for the APD and our town, as opposed to a "farce"?

Kurt Geryk said...

Larry, I wasn't being sarcastic, I'm trying to be a good listener.

Larry Kelley said...

It's dumb way they went about it, Kurt.

For Umass President Caret to tell a reporter "the police might have overreacted" while he's announcing the hiring of Ed Davis for the review sets APD up as the bad guys.

And our police were not bad guys (or gals) that day. Unlike you, I was an eyewitness.

Kurt Geryk said...

I get what you're saying about the quote. Do you think he was speaking for himself or do you think that came out of meetings with other University officials?

Larry Kelley said...

Speaking for himself. And as Archie Bunker would say, he should have "stifled" himself.

Anonymous said...

So, your wife should welcome a review of the school ?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:08, several kids left Amherst after the school year started and I know at least one is in Hadley.

Kurt Geryk said...

Anon 9:36: Yes!

My impression is that reviews of the Amherst schools are ongoing, that they are subject to nearly constant reviews by paid and unpaid consultants and by state officials. School Admin regularly INVITES outside experts to review specific issues and incidents and to offer insight into doing a better job "next time around". For example, school admin very recently invited (not required) an expert from outside the district to do an impartial and unbiased review of the events and everyone involved (students, teachers, administration) surrounding the recent case involving allegations of bullying and civil rights violations.

So again, yes, the schools welcome outside review. And as I'm starting to see, town, university and APD officials welcome a review of last weekends events by the former police commissioner. Don't you?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately they usually ignore the advice from even costly reviews. Math program anyone?

Anonymous said...

Would outside reviews include the reports on math by Chen, the DeBeers (sp?) middle school review and the CORE review of the language program at the elementary schools? The parents weren't blamed in these reviews. What has been implemented and how has it worked-- or were they just buried? Couldn't a review process include what students and parents think?

It's easy to dump on parent complaints as the core problem in the district. It's unprovable since the district can't talk about personnel. It's non-specific. It deflects responsibilty from the people actually getting paid. It's also a little ridiculous. Is the achievement gap caused by parent complaining? Was that why there were 5 supreintendents, at least 12-14 different principals, staff moving in and out of the central admin? Are parents to blame for the medicorce MCAS results? The weak math curriculum? And so on? If parent complaints are the problem, why imprelement any new programs or curriculum?

Kurt Geryk said...

Who dumped on parents as "the core problem in the district"?

If you're talking about me, here is the only place I even used the word "parents" or referred to them:

"...they (school personnel) face daily criticism from...parents, the media, bloggers and their crazy cowardly anons, outside consultants.sometimes members of the SC, and town (and not in town) residents in general..."

I also never used the word "complain" or "complaining", I said "criticism, evaluation and questioning", which is very different.

It happens almost every time on this blog, people start arguing against something someone never said.

And, yes, it is sort of amusing that the only two people who are on this thread and who have turned it into a criticism of the Amherst schools are non-Amherst residents who choice their kids into our schools! (The only ones that are not invisible people, that is.)

Anonymous said...

please tell me why the APRS admin can't attempt to be transparent? The posted bios of the Principal applicants could simply have been their CVs. The "bios" make it impossible to determine where and for how long they worked, when they got their various degrees, etc. Why does it always seem that the admin (ie. Ms Geryk and Ms Mazur) aren't being totally forthcoming? Is there a reason why more details can't be provided? I imagine googling these folks will be more informative.

Kurt Geryk said...

Catherine and I have something in common, we both receive a ton of private emails from teachers and parents and other concerned or interested parties...and they are almost ALL sent to thank me for standing up to her b.s. because they don't feel like they can!

Three today...

Kurt Geryk said...

anonymous 3:51, why do you feel the need to ask that question anonymously? It's an honest and straightforward why? I'm really curious!

Anonymous said...

You could google them, or you could go to the public forum and meet them in person and publicly ask them anything you want. The first forum is tonight, the 17th.

Fort River Elementary School-Library

Anna-Stina Wardlaw - 6:15 pm
Bobbie Finocchio - 7:00 pm

Anonymous said...

Yes, I suppose one could take up 20 minutes asking each candidate the information that would be included on their CV, like where have you worked (and for how long), what were your responsibilities, what were your accomplishments in that position. But some of that should be first available in their "Bios" or more appropriately in their CV. It is important to know have they been on a revolving door, for example-- impossible to deduce from their 'bios'. This is the repeated MO of the admin for each and every hire. It very much appears there is a pretence to include the community. Why wouldn't we be given that information? Why does it matter, Kurt, is the questioner is anon?

I don't understand why so few applicants and only 2 finalists (presumably only 2 are minimally qualified):
1) Few individuals seeking these positions (small available pool)
2) Large pool but few interested in us (if so why?)

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe some of us have to be cowardly anons because we work for the school department and need to keep our frigging job too feed our kids! Unlike the front office I don't make 100k +.

Kurt Geryk said...

You guys are doing a great job at demonstrating the kind of crap I'm talking about...excellent!

anonymous 6:57pm...a little tale:

I met a young guy from the Netherlands, who is studying polymer science at the university, at the pub the other night. I asked him if he'd rather live and work in the USA or Europe. He was torn, but he said the USA, because people on the "lower rungs of the ladder", as he put it, have opportunities to climb the ladder and make a lot of money and earn prestige, in a way that is less possible in Europe.

You can do that too, anonymous 6:57pm! You could do what my wife (whose immigrant parents never even owned their own house) did: work your way through undergrad with night jobs, go to grad school at night while you do a t.a. position AND work full-time plus during the day, set higher career goals, seek every opportunity to gain experience that relates to your career goals, build references, put yourself out there and apply for jobs that will you EARN you a higher standard of living... it's been demonstrated time and again that that kind of opportunity is available right here in the Amherst Public School system--you can climb the ladder too, anonymous 6:57pm! Go for it! (and stop... well, complaining.)

Kurt Geryk said...

Yes, I see, anonymous 4:40pm. You want to be on the hiring committee for the next Fort River principal... you're one of those people who wants to do other people's job for them.

Are you concerned that the people actually tasked with hiring the next FR principal, who I assume have extensively investigated and interviewed the finalists, might not have concerned themselves with or asked those questions?

Do you need to know the same kind of details when the APD or the AFD makes a hire, or do you just trust that they know what they're doing, because they have worked in their field for years, and are the most qualified to make their hires?

Anonymous said...

Kurt, unless there is some rule that prohibits it or the candidates refuse, why wouldn't the entire CV be provided? Why would the central office need to go to the extra effort to write such narratives? Why not??? Your excuse/logic is very weak.

Dr, Ed said...

school admin very recently invited (not required) an expert from outside the district to do an impartial and unbiased review of the events and everyone involved (students, teachers, administration) surrounding the recent case involving allegations of bullying and civil rights violations.

Long pause.

1: What the &^%$^&&* "Civil Rights Violations" are you talking about?A white kid who wants to be Black, who has Black friends, and who uses the exact same word in the exact same manner/intent that his BLACK friends do is not a civil rights violation.

Civil Rights are essentially the rights to (a) life, (b) liberty and (c) property -- which Jefferson renamed as "the pursuit of happiness." The Civil Rights Statutes, starting with the Anti-KluKluxKlan Act of 1871 (i.e. 46 USC 1983, explicitly state that a "civil right" is something guaranteed by the US or State Constitution.

You know, the First Amendment, the Second Amendment,the Third Amendment... -- are you saying that "Justin" violated the Black Student's protections from the Quartering Act???

(Hint: Google "Third Amendment...")

2: Exactly what large and diverse school district was this "outside expert" the recently-retired Superintendent of? Or in which state did he/she/it serve as the Commissioner of Education?

You want to bring in Michelle Rhee or Dave Driscoll or Sandy Stotsky --- that would be one thing. But whom did you bring in?

3: How do you justify not filling out the paperwork? If a student says he is being bullied, you kinda gotta do it -- it is a State Regulation -- and you folks didn't. Ooops...

4: How am I being "mean" by asking this stuff???

Anonymous said...

Kurt, unless there is some rule that prohibits it or the candidates refuse, why wouldn't the entire CV be provided?

Particularly since a web search can be both skewed toward the negative and not always accurate.

The CV is the stuff they want people to know about them -- while Google is the vast World Wide Wasteland.

Kurt Geryk said...

Take off the invisibility cloak and I'll have a conversation with.

Anonymous said...

Why would parents and residents want to know the work backgrounds and accomplishments of the candidates for principal? I think it's important to let the HR staff do their vetting, present the info they want to present, and let the Superintendent hire the next principal who will leave in a year or so. HR and the Sup. have an excellent track record of picking short-term employees, please don't interfere with it with requests for detailed information and your thoughts. Our job is to just take the blame when the person leaves.

Kurt Geryk said...

One example of the type of behavior I am referring to, as it relates to us parents, is, recently when the current principal of Fort River announced that she was stepping up and resigning from her principal position, one Fort River parent immediately got online to say:

"...the teachers from Fort River are partying and toasting. Hall was a bitch. She was disliked... She was just an angry women who acted like she was better than everyone else"

...among other caustic and hateful remarks. Many Fort River parents as well as invisibles from who knows where piled on. That's one small example.

I never said parents are THE problem, but, you know, "it takes a village". And despite what Sanderson says ("It has NOTHING to do with parents") just take a look at the quote above from her friend Walter who is a parent of Fort River students.

Anonymous said...

When did we get the idea in this town that incivility is acceptable behavior and simply part of a normal dialogue?

That's not rhetorical...when did that start?

Anonymous said...

Kurt, I agree the kinds of comments like those from Walter Graff are unacceptable but does one, two, even a few individuals represent the "village"? I hope not! It seems most of the comments made about ARPS are not of such a personal nature but rather about process (or lack thereof) and lack of transparency, or just general questions of the type that are not answered when addressed to the administration so those frustrated individuals fruitlessly seek such answers here.

Michael Hootstein said...

I have a dream where we all, especially Larry, Kurt,Maria,Rick, Catherine and those among us who don't feel safe about openly voicing our opinions, come together on this blog to identify and solve the complex school problems facing us before its too late. While I honor Larry and Catherine S. for their admirable efforts on behalf of our school children, this custodial grandparent honors Maria, her staff and the teachers for their admirable efforts on behalf of our school children. United, we Americans stand. Divided, we fall!