My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Process of Change

I've had a lot of questions -- on this blog, in person, via private email/phone -- over the last few days about the events of the last week, and I want to take this opportunity to clarify a few points (to the best of my ability, within the confines of the law) about where we are, how we got there, and where I think we should be going.

1. Last Wednesday (March 3rd), all School Committee members received a set of evaluations completed by senior staff who worked with Dr. Rodriguez (principals, assistant principals, senior central office staff).

2. On Friday (March 5th), I was called in the early afternoon and told that an emergency executive session had been scheduled for that evening at 6 pm.

3. On Monday (March 8th), we attended an executive session, and a statement was released (as you've seen by now) stating that Dr. Rodriguez and the School Committee had reached an agreement that he would no longer work in the district.

4. On Tuesday (March 9th), we attended a School Committee meeting in which we expected to determine a plan for leadership in the district.

So, this means that less than a week passed from receiving the evaluations to making the decision to appoint Maria Geryk as interim superintendent for 16 months.

I have several concerns about the process - and since one of the main goals I have in doing this blog, and one of the principles I ran for SC on, is communication, I'd like to share those.

First, I believe that the SC should have taken the time to get comments from the public PRIOR to appointing an interim for a 16 month period. If we had only made a 4-month appointment, that would seem different, but a 16-month position is a very long time, and I believe that we owed it to the community to allow some comments. We could have easily postponed this decision for one week to allow time for parents, teachers, staff, and/or community members to share their thoughts about how best to proceed. That at least would have allowed for greater communication and transparency in the process of selecting a new superintendent (even a temporary superintendent), and frankly transparency seems really important at this time.

Second, I believe that appointing an interim superintendent for 16 months really deserves more thought and attention than a single hour or two discussion on one evening -- by people who were already 2 hours into the meeting before it began AND by people who were in the third long (3+ hour) meeting in 5 days. This is not a recipe for good decision-making. I don't think we did the community, or Maria Geryk, a service by making such a rush decision.

Third, the SC ultimately chooses the superintendent -- not the staff. And it was striking to me that virtually all SC members initially spoke in favor of at least trying to mount a search (me, Steve, Irv, Kathleen, Kathy, Debbie, and Haley - the student representative). Yet the staff (principals and central office staff) then clearly spoke against conducting a search, and ultimately, their views led a majority of SC members to change their minds. At a minimum, I think we could have contacted a few search firms to ask questions regarding the feasibility of conducting a search at this time -- and although I understand that finding a good superintendent takes time, I think it is also possible that were could have attracted a strong superintendent at this time (remembering that Jere Hochman was not selected by Bedford until late May). And although staff spoke about how time consuming such a search would be, that work is obviously going to have to occur - the only question is whether it occurs this spring or this fall!

Fourth, we could easily have appointed Maria as interim superintendent for four months, WHILE we conducted a search for a one-year (or permanent) interim. Maria then could have applied for this position, and if she emerged as the best candidate, obviously she would have been given that job. So I guess I don't understand why 6 members of the committee (all five non-Amherst members, plus Andy) voted against conducting a search for an interim superintendent when it was quite clear that Maria could have been a candidate for this search, and thus clearly would have been selected IF she emerged as the best candidate. That could ultimately have led to the exact same situation we are in, but in a way that would have allowed the community to see that we diligently considered multiple candidates and that we appointed the best person.

Finally, I think it is understandable that the staff would prefer to have Maria Geryk appointed - she is a known, she is familiar, and she thus provides stability. I certainly was in favor of having her serve as interim this time last year (after Helen/Al departed). But as I expressed at the meeting last night, I see our district as very, very insular, and I don't think that is a real strength -- and hiring Maria continues that insularity. I see the most significant contribution Dr. Rodriguez made to our district as bringing in experts (Dr. Hamer last summer, Dr. Beers this fall/winter) to examine what we do from the perspective of an outsider. I believe we learned a ton from these reports, and they point out some real areas in which we need to improve. I just don't know if I see an internal candidate as the best person to facilitate such change (again, had we conducted a real search, we could have asked Maria, and other candidates, for their strategies for accomplishing such change, etc.).

Nonetheless, the School Committee has voted, and has made the decision to appoint Maria Geryk to serve for 16 months as the interim superintendent, and as a School Committee member, I am committed to trying to work effectively with her (just as I was committed to working with Dr. Rodriguez, although I had opposed his hiring last March). And I will hope that she is indeed able to move our district forward in the goals that we have set so that we don't lose yet more time -- because we don't get those years back for the kids currently in our schools. And as Dr. Beers said last night (with respect to the middle school) -- it is a good school. But it could be a very good or even great school. I believe that statement holds equally well for our district -- it is a good district, but it could (and really should) be a great district.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for all you do. You are the sane voice in a sea of insanity.

We need to find a way to becoming a great school district. And, we are really not there yet. And, the moment we become complacent and stop striving to be the very best, the decline begins.


Ed said...

Why is it that the school employees have the right to debate the school committee?

This just doesn't make sense to me.

TomG said...

the SC ... chooses the superintendent ... virtually all SC members initially spoke in favor of at least trying to mount a search (me, Steve, Irv, Kathleen, Kathy, Debbie, and Haley - the student representative).

Yet the staff (principals and central office staff) then clearly spoke against conducting a search

I would like to see the reasons for delaying a search for a new superintendent. It they have merit, then as a voter and taxpayer I will support the decision. If they are not compelling then I will urge the SC to reconsider their approach.

There is no reason why the current timetable cannot be reconsidered.

If the interim appointment were to become 4 months instead of 16, that's 12 months of progress under a new superintendent.

Make sure the search is open to current administrators. We should evaluate the skills and ideas they would bring to the table. If they (current administrators) do not apply, then its clear they must get on board with whomever is chosen or find another place to work that suits them.

Eileen Marasco said...

Appreciate the explanation of what went on during the final 25 minutes of last night's mtg. Catherine. Seems like there's nothing to prevent Maria Geryk from throwing her name in the ring once the search were to commence for a new Superintendent if she should decide she wants the job. Personally, I think, she's too smart to take it. She knows the pitfalls of working at the job too well in this district. I don't think last night's discussion of how to proceed on filling either the Superintendent's slot on an interim or permanent basis looked to me, as an observer in the room, to have sat at all well with her. The tone & nature of the mtg. at that point when I looked at it from her seat was miserable. I for one, am glad that she agreed to take a 16-month appt. Hope everybody's on their best behavior, boys & girls of the blogosphere & beyond b/c if Maria says, "no mas" & walks we're not left in a very good place.

Thank you to all the employees of the Amherst district from senior administrators to staff to classroom teachers, paras, everybody right on down the line. You have been through hell the past week & apparently some of you for some time before that. Together we move forward. Together we stabilize the system. Together we work out our differences in a civilized, respectful & calm manner. It's okay to agree to disagree sometimes, but let's not forget who we do all this for everyday. Our kids. What do we tell them & what do we teach them if we, the adults, are not able to see our way through to calmer waters? Everybody just take a breath. Breathe & let's move forward.

Anonymous said...

I too am puzzled by why the SC thought they had to take a vote on Tuesday night about how to proceed. Maria was acting Sup - why could she not continue to serve as acting Sup for a week or so to allow things to settle for a bit and to give the SC time to think about the situation and to solicit input from all the players - teachers, admin, parents.

Irv kept pushing for a decision to be made that night. I think it was wrong to move so hastily. The SC seems to frequently drag its feet when it should be moving forward more quickly and then move like the wind when it should slow down and be more deliberative.

Dr. Beers was great. I hope that his impressive presentation that night does not get lost amidst what followed. I hope the SC will ask him to come back and look at all of our schools as he did the MS.

Then, I hope each shool will really take his recommendations to heart and implement them. What a gem he was.

Perhaps to counter the insularity of an inside person being Sup for the next 16 months we can continue to bring in outside consultants to give us the outside eyes the Amherst schools so desperately need.

And, lastly, Catherine, keep fighting the good fight. Don't let the bullies chase you out or get you down. I watched the video of the Tuesday night meeting just last night. I could see how deflated you were after Mark Jackson berated you. You looked exhausted and worn and ready to throw in the towel. I wanted to reach into the tv and just hug you. I don't always agree with you but I always admire you for how hard you work to make our schools the best they can be. Hang in there and know there are many folks who support you and what you are trying to do.

Nina Koch said...

I am happy to engage in a discussion about change. One of the things that I have never understood is some people's depiction of us as being too experimental in our approach while simultaneously afraid of change. I also find it curious that some of the changes that people want to offer us are a return to traditional pedagogy.

I didn't agree with everything Dr. Beers recommended, but what I liked most about him is his focus on active learning. He felt that he saw students doing too much watching and copying. If that's true, then I agree that it should change. Now, of course, he only took a sample. I wouldn't immediately extrapolate that sample to a characterization of the entire school. Instead, I would hope it becomes a focus of professional development. Teachers could be asked to reflect on their practice in that light. They could be asked to provide examples of activities where the kids are actively engaged in learning. There could be a discussion about what engagement really means. One of the points that Dr. Beers was trying to make is that we may have different ideas what it means to engage, different definitions of rigor and challenge. That kind of discussion can lead to effective change. At the meeting, Mark Jackson made it clear that the Beers report wasn't just going to sit on a shelf. He has already started a dialogue with middle school teachers around the report and I am sure that will continue.

I am very much in favor of having a high quality discussion about learning. In fact, as part of the re-accreditation process, ARHS is currently soliciting input about our learning expectations. We have set up a student and community forum:


This is an opportunity to be specific and constructive. We are in the process identifying things we think are important. We are asking people to comment on whether or not our current practice is in line with particular goals. For example, we want students to be able to write effectively in a variety of formats. Are we doing that? This is your chance to say. Your response might be that your child is asked to do one kind of writing but not another. Your response might be that your child writes a lot in some classes and not very much in others. Your response might be that your child doesn't seem to spend much time on revision of writing. Or your response might be that your child seems to be really finding her voice through writing. We would read the responses and think about what we could do more of, what we could do differently. That sounds like a healthy process of change to me.

I see no reason why we can't use the next 16 months to improve what we do. I have some ideas about improving communication, for example, and I believe Maria will be very open to them. If she were only to be here for 4 months, I wouldn't even bother presenting my ideas. But since she will be here long enough to get something done, then I will go ahead. So I think that is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

So you're putting JH out there as an example of a great superintendent hire in May after trashing his leadership in not so subtle ways on this blog? Interesting. And you were in favor of a search for an interim even after trashing H&A S for their lack of openness to closing MM (which happened under Maria's watch by the way) and redistricting? Equally interesting. I think I remember you saying that it was hard for a temporary hire to tackle big changes in the district under their watch. Isn't that what you're wanting to see?

Anonymous said...

I watched the meeting and I'm sorry you didn't lay out your concerns like you just did on the blog. I think you could have been persuasive and successful if you had argued for a short delay to consider the events, outline a plan for public input, and scheduled a public hearing. Sadly, your comments at the meeting (at least what it sounded like on my tv) did not sound like this post. Instead you came off sounding like you wanted anyone but an inside person, which may have inadvertently communicated a lack of trust of the current staff. This probably fed into the lack of trust some of them may already feel by some of your actions this year. This is not a criticism of you. But everyone has responsibility's possible that your current interest in slowing down the Superintendent replacement process was not communicated.

I am not on staff, I am a parent who's watching and trying to figure out how we have come to what I see as a crisis. And unlike many writers on this blog, I see that everyone on the committee has some accountability for this result. And as a voter I am confused how my votes for School Committee this month will help or hurt this dynamic.


Ed said...

For those who haven't seen it, the video clip is over at Larry Kelly's blog. And it should be seen.

And there is the simple concept of insubordination. This is a democracy, the people get to have any damn kind of schools we want -- we get to vote for whomever we damn well please to represent us on the School Committee and that is that.

I may not particularly like B. Hussain NObama but elections have consequences, he is the President and if I work for the Federal Government, his picture is on my wall. That is how democracy works.

The members of the School Committee are GOD. They do not have to justify their actions to employees of the district, it actually is the other way around.

And I think that Mark Jackson should be fired for (a) insubordination and (b) violation of professional ethics.

Anonymous said...

Part of "the process of change" is the accelerating number of kids going to private and charter schools.

Mark Jackson's performance will lead to even more defections. I wouldn't let me kid within a mile that guy after watching him the other night. Disgraceful.

Catherine, could you get some numbers on how much that's increasing? My guess is that each new year will be a new record if the word at pickup at WW is any measure.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

RS - thanks for the kind thoughts. And I think we ALL need to keep pushing for us to become a great district.

Ed - I think the rush to make a decision led to some unfortunate consequences, including allowing considerable staff discussion (no parent discussion) and limiting SC discussion (given the lateness of the hour). I believe it was a mistake to make this decision on Tuesday, although now that it has been made, it is one we will have to live with.

Tom G - the reason for the delay was concern about the likelihood of finding a good candidate at this point in the hiring season. It is likely that our choices will be more limited than if we searched earlier (e.g., January/February). And there were concerns expressed about how much time we should spend searching if the likelihood of finding someone was low.

I believe it is important enough to find stable leadership for this district that we should have given it a shot. I'm sorry others didn't agree.

Eileen - I agree that Maria could have thrown her hat in the ring, and I have every confidence that if she was the best person, she would have been chosen. And I'm sure it was uncomfortable for her to sit there and hear the discussion. I do agree that now that the decision has been made, we need to hope it was the right one and work on the important district goals we have adopted.

Anonymous 6:11 - I agree with much of what you said. And thanks for the support and kind words!

Nina - I think the issue is that by change, I'm meaning change not in WHAT we do, but in HOW we do it. There is lots of change in the Amherst schools - let's change what we require in 9th grade science, let's change how we teach 7th grade math -- but these changes are developed by people within the Amherst schools and with no looking at what occurs in other districts. It is a matter not in changing what we do, but in changing how we make decisions. That's what is hard, and that is what requires a change in the culture of Amherst. This is not about becoming "more traditional" -- it is about assuming that if 95% of high schools are on a semester system, that might be a good idea for us too!

I am glad that the HS is seeking parent input as part of the re-accreditation process. I hope you receive a lot of input.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

More from me:

Anonymous 7:26 - I'm going to respond to your post (which I published) in a respectful way, although you did not show me that same courtesy.

First, I am NOT holding out Jere as a great superintendent (I have real concerns about his leadership, as I have expressed) - I threw it out to demonstrate that it isn't clear to me that the superintendent search season is over in March, if he was hired in May. There are hires, and he was hired by a good district that paid a lot -- I'm sure Bedford didn't see themselves as "taking the dregs."

Second, I've heard from the head of the MA superintendents that there are MANY experienced interims who do come in and really evaluate a district BECAUSE they have a lot of experience (e.g., they look at the organizational structure, they look at budgets, etc.). Because Jere left in JUNE, we had exactly 3 weeks to find a superintendent -- and by that point, qualified and experienced interims were taken by other districts (apparently it is rather common to have a superintendent leave, then have an interim for a year while a search is conducted). I'm quite confident we could have found a very good interim IF we started searching in March -- and the advantage is that that person could then have really worked on making progress in a way that is sometimes easier to do with an outside eye, which then could have made the job more appealing for a permanent person (e.g., hire an interim to clean up what needs to be cleaned up, so that tough work is done BEFORE a new superintendent arrives). Third, the closing of MM and redistricting was done by the SC, not Maria. You might recall that I made a motion to do that, which I believe Kathleen seconded, and which was ultimately adopted by all SC members. You might recall that Maria didn't take a position on closing MM.

EL - thanks for sharing your thoughts. Two points: first, I had NO idea when I walked into that meeting at 6:30 pm that it was even possible that we would discuss this issue. I assumed we would appoint Maria for 4 months, and then ponder different options. So, this all caught me totally off-guard. Then, by the time it came to make the vote, etc., I had been attacked by Mark and I really couldn't talk again -- I was very, very upset. Thus, I just didn't feel I could share any thoughts. Second, I do personally believe that an outside person would be better than an inside person, and that is likely how I would have voted if we had done a search for an interim for a year (although of course I have no idea what the candidates would have looked like, and certainly would have voted for Maria if I didn't feel we had stronger candidates). So, my comments were about my preference for an outsider, and that does reflect my belief. However, what the SC voted was to not even consider an outsider, and that is why I find really concerning -- by doing a search, we could have seen who was out there and voted for the BEST person (with community input), and that means that those who believed it was better to have Maria could have given her insider-status more weight ... but at least the community would have seen we considered a range of candidates and that she earned the position in a fair and open way.

In terms of the SC vote -- I'd support the person(s) who best shares your view about what our schools should be and how to get there. There is only one year in which the current members will all be on the committee (then the election next year will change the dynamic yet again), and it is VERY hard to predict alliances pre-election. Andy supported my election two years ago -- and Kathleen did not. Yet, on Tuesday, I voted with Kathleen (and Irv and Steve), and against Andy.

Anonymous said...

In the name of transparency, so I'll include my name this time, I have a question:

what were the three or so qualities that commended Dr. Rodriguez over the other candidate (the fellow from West Hartford)?

I think this is relevant so parents can know what we are looking for in the next superintendant.

Adam Siegel

ps. I understand that many will want "to move on", but that would be a miss. It's important to know how we make decisions and who has made these decisions for us.

Anonymous said...

"The members of the School Committee are GOD."
No, they're not. Though a few appear to think they are. School committee members have absolutely no authoirity regarding the hiring or firing of principles.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean "principals"?

Sort of ironic typo,though.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the old joke.....

Superintendents don't die, they just lose their principles.

Principals don't die, they just lose their faculties.

Teachers don't die, they just lose their class.

Can anyone think of an entry for school committees?

Ed said...

"The members of the School Committee are GOD."
No, they're not. Though a few appear to think they are. School committee members have absolutely no authority regarding the hiring or firing of principals.

So you prefer to live in a dictatorship? Where the citizens have no input into who runs the schools?

All power flows from the people. It flows via the ballot box to the school committee and they -- and they alone -- have the moral authority to exercise discretion.

And what you are seeing with the populist movement in this country - Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, etc - is a move back to that. And the taxpayers ought to have a solid and sincere authority over the building principals and that includes either the authority to fire them directly or to order that they be fired.

Anonymous said...

Catherine - I think there has been a nearly absurd misreading of what Mark Jackson said at the s.c. meeting and how he said it. You're an intelligent person and must see that yourself, upon review - and I'm disappointed you're allowing the comments here describing him as a bully to acquire the status of fact. THAT is a character attack, which I thought was being discouraged.
He disagreed, strongly, with you. That's not bullying. He has a right to make his point, and I doubt it was any easier for him than it is for anyone to disagree, in public, with the school committee.
You're an intelligent and forceful person, but when you make arguments or assertions do you expected to be called a bully? His characterization of your comments as a statement rather than a question was, I thought, fair. (Even if it weren't, it is not bullying.)

Anonymous said...

2:44pm - I agree.

Anonymous said...

If the SC has no authority to hire & fire top admin (or principals, anyway) then who does actually do the hiring and firing? HR?

I'm confused.

Ed said...

And now Mark Jackson didn't say what everyone knows he said. Or didn't mean it. Or whatnot....

Oh, how very Soviet....

OK, maybe you send him to a touchie-feelie group grope sensitivity seminar instead -- but he DID say this stuff and he needs to be held accountable for doing so....

Anonymous said...

I think the thing between MJackson and CS is just that - between them. It seems to be dominating other more important, substantive topics. I hope they can work it out - i agree that he was quite aggressive - but let them work it out and let's move on.

One of the things that I was most alarmed by at the meeting was the UMass prof (Rebecca...) who wants to go full steam ahead working with ARPS.

This alarms me because culture clusters, the no ElemS homework policy, and the "focus" on equity to the detriment of academic challenge - are all a result of collaborating with the UMass Ed School. We're just recovering from 30 years of collaborating with UMass - so I'd caution the SC to monitor that situation closely.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anons 2:44 and 2:52:

Have you actually seen the exchange? Principal Jackson violated the confidentiality of Dr. Rodriguez's evaluations. And, he said stuff that had nothing to do with CS's point. She said people in town are upset and they perceive that Dr. Rodriguez was run out of town. Principal Jackson took her down by talking about the evaluations and how they don't support what CS said.

But how could confidential work evaluations of Dr. Rodriguez have anything to do with perceptions in town?

Were you there? Did you see it on ACTV? I think you don't know what you're talking about.

A friend said...

First of all, there is no reason that Maria would be expected to finish out the 16 months if a new superintendent -- one-year or long-term contract -- were hired. She has a job.

It is clear that someone had to be at the helm by the end of the evening and that Maria was available -- her name hadn't even been taken down from the Town website.

But the number -- 4 or 16 -- is arbitrary, at this point.

When this School Committee started its term in August, there was talk about getting training from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) but nothing came of it. Dr. Rodriguez was able to guide this SC in learning its job and we have much to be grateful for there.

Maria, on the other hand, seems to look to you for cues, based on Tuesday. Perhaps a consultant could be made available to her to provide guidance (and an occasional shoulder to cry on).

Please consider getting her some help.

A friend.


Anonymous said...

We're just recovering from 30 years of collaborating with UMass - so I'd caution the SC to monitor that situation closely.

May be wise to run all the names of your district school committee through the UMass Staff/Faculty directory which is at Might be interesting to see what you "find."

Anonymous said...

So, if the SC was able to get rid of Rodrieguez when he had a 3 year contract, why can't they do the same with M. Geryk. There must be a rule that allows for bringing back the vote. This is not the presidency of the USA. The SC was pressured by the SC chair who, by the way, seems to be a wanna-be superintendent himself. For crying out loud, we should be looking for a new super asap.

Anonymous said...

I've posted a link below to a 3/7/10 New York Times Sunday magazine article called "Building a Better Teacher."

Although it speaks more to teacher education than retraining veteran teachers, it provides fresh info about what specific skills actually make a difference in the classroom (and it's not predicted by SAT scores or passing state teacher exams on the first try, having an outgoing personality, or any other traits one might assume -- wrongly -- are correlated with good student outcomes).

Also, it states that the majority of US teacher training universities recognized that what they do is not good enough and are revamping their programs. I wonder if UMass is part of that

Anonymous said...

To Mr./Ms. 6:15 p.m.:
Yes, I saw it, and I do know what I'm talking about. Try not to be rude. Your quote - "Principal Jackson violated the confidentiality of Dr. Rodriguez's evaluations." - is slander. You do not KNOW that, and you are speculating. He may, to a shallow listener, have appeared to be referring to 'inside' knowledge of the eval., but there is no evidence of any kind in his statement that he did. I think you should be more careful.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, if the SC was able to get rid of Rodrieguez...

The School Committee did not "get rid of" Dr. Rodriguez. He left. We had six superintendents in a year, he just lasted the longest.

No wonder parents are putting their kids in private and choice schools. That kind of talk would scare any reasonable person.


Anonymous said...

Anon 5:28 p.m. Thanks for posting that. Collaborating with a local resource is a good idea. A great idea is collaborating with an institution that is the best in training teachers and administrators. We should be collaborating with Columbia and other places like that as well.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Adam - I think you raise a good question -- what led to the selection of Dr. Rodriguez over Dr. Sklarz? I'm not sure I have a great answer -- I didn't agree with this choice, and I had trouble thinking of good reasons why this was the right way to go. I wonder if Nina would speak to the qualities that led her to support Dr. Rodriguez over Dr. Sklarz (since she posted comments on another blog indicating that Dr. Rodriguez was in fact her first choice).

Anonymous 2:44 - I don't know if you attended the meeting, or saw it on TV, but Mark's behavior was inappropriate. I said, as part of my preference for hiring an outside person, that there was a community PERCEPTION that Dr. Rodriguez got bad evaluations BECAUSE he ruffled feathers, and appointing an internal person would be in line with those concerns. (I did NOT say those concerns were accurate -- I spoke entirely to the perception, since, as a SC member, I can't actually speak to the nature of the evaluations at all). Mark then described me as not doing my job (e.g., accusing me of not reading the evaluations), which wasn't relevant to my point (we should hire an outside person) at all. That isn't a "disagreement" - since my statement was about the community perception, which he didn't speak to. Finally, I have to assume that you didn't attend or see the meeting, since his statement "That's a statement, not a question" was directed towards me as I sat up and tried to defend myself - and he was quieting me so that I wouldn't speak (e.g., that wasn't a question). He was NOT characterizing my comments as a statement rather than a question. If you don't see that as bullying, fine -- a lot of other people who attended the meeting do/did.

Anonymous 3:00 - the superintendent hires/fires/evaluations principals. The SC hires/fires/evaluates the superintendent.

Anonymous 6:15 - thanks for pointing this out!

A friend - I believe the intention is to hire a curriculum director, and I think that position would be useful. I expect the Chairs will talk to Maria about what type of support she could find useful -- it is a good idea.

Anonymous 7:54 - thanks for giving that link -- I was going to post it on my blog, but it was just SO long! I thought this was a really interesting article.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

One more thing - the topic of this post is "the process of change" -- and posts about this topic are welcome! But I'm not going to publish more comments that relate to the interaction between me and Mark Jackson. I think enough has been said.

Anonymous said...

Catherine- Would you respond to 8.03's post? I don't believe that I've seen any reports that Dr. Rodriquez asked to be released from his contract. I think that letting comments like this go unchallenged just feeds the perception that he was run out of town ( and serves to absolve the SC of any responsiblity in his firing)

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My response:

Anonymous 8:03/11:08 - I am bound by the law to not talk about anything that occurred in Executive Session, so I just can't talk about the reasons that led to the superintendent's departure. I agree that this is unfortunate, and I'm sorry. I can say that the resolution was "amicable" and mutual.

Nina Koch said...


I really appreciate your post. Thanks for that.

I am very glad that Catherine has added some more threads to the blog so that others have been pushed down in the stack and no longer appear on the front page of the blog. I didn't read all the way through them last night because it was just too disheartening to see everybody piling on, with venom flying in multiple directions. (Sorry for the mixed metaphor.)

I don't see how we are going to hire anybody if candidates see all that. Note to any candidates who are seeing this: if you come visit our district, I will bake you brownies.

I think offering chocolate may be our only hope at this point.

Anonymous said...

I understand that- but my guess is that had Dr. R's departure been totally voluntary then:

a) the statements issued by the school committee would have been worded differently- along the lines of : "It is with great regret that we accept the resignation of Dr. R..."

b) We would not be buying out any of his contract.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Geryk has been extremely helpful "filling in" for all the recent departures of our Superintendents. She does a very good job of maintaining a known and calm atmosphere. That said, it is possible that so many of the senior administrators who wanted Dr. Rodriguez to leave know that they will now be "safe" with her at the helm. Keep in mind that by doing this, they can maintain their special interests and keep things going the way they want - at least for the next 16 months. That is a long time to have an interim in place. The school system needs a strong leader from outside the "inside group"......but it appears as though current administrators want someone who will "rubber stamp" what THEY want.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the high paid administrators and HR person and end the Legal Fees and Buy outs and Silence dollars and we would not need an overide.