Longtime reader, always available. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org ... keep reading.
I can accept all of the above if you can accept what I said about the right-wing war on TUSD. My basic point is that whoever takes on the job of superintendent is going to be caught between a rock (the legislature) and a hard place (the ongoing deseg. litigation), while constantly ducking the incessant handfuls of mud being slung by TUSD's many detractors (that's what Pedicone was talking about in the quote you used).
If you're mostly upset with suits at 1010, I'm still with you. We do amazing things for our kids -- often in spite of 1010.
If you're suggesting that I reacted because I'm tired of hearing the district used as a handy scapegoat for everything that's wrong in the entire world -- fair enough. I am.
Finally, as an aside: please forward my e-mail address to Mari Herrera. I have a strong desire to ask her about some things I'm being tasked to do next year that I'd rather not discuss in a public forum. (Meaning that if YOU won't buy her lunch, I will).
Thanks for the reply.
Longtime Reader: Believe it or not, I've received quite a bit of positive response, from TUSD employees and parents, no less. In fact, Mari edited the piece (and perhaps she was just sucking up to her boss, I'll accept that as being plausible) and she felt it was on point.
Yes, the legislature is a real problem, by all means. However, there are other districts in this state, even in this city, that are managing far better. I think you might be reading something into my column that isn't there. I completely understand why the principal of my son's school left not would I dispute that the teachers in his school or in other TUSD schools are doing the best they can. But, if you think that there isn't a leadership issue at all, possibly due to the near constant turnover in the superintendent position, but also due to the fact we just have some people in positions at 1010 that just shouldn't be, we're going to just have to disagree.
Okay Dan, you want comments...
As a high school English teacher (yes, in TUSD), I have to say that your op-ed piece leaves rather a lot to be desired. You sort of wander back and forth between general complaints that the language in the search company's advertisement isn't quite snappy enough, to more specific gripes about what's happening at your kids' school, including the fact that the principal is leaving for a career outside of education -- "which possibly isn't TUSD's fault, I suppose. But if I were him and heard all about all these cutbacks..."
Yes, it's not a particularly easy time to be an educator. It's especially difficult to be an educator in TUSD, these days, since the rabid right has declared war on TUSD (led by Tom "I don't actually know what MAS does -- never seen any of the classes, myself -- but I know it MUST be racist; just ask my friend Bill O'Reilly" Horne). If you want to see how ugly this particular war continues to be, peruse the comments posted on the AZStarnet site every single time TUSD is mentioned even briefly in any of their reporting.
Go on, I dare you.
Yes, it sucks that funding has been cut to the extent that we're having to close schools, lay off teachers and library staff (as an English teacher, it absolutely KILLS me to lose library staff). Collapsing classes in art and PE is a horrible idea, as is bumping up the average class size. Increasing the ratios of students to counselors and students to administrators is absolutely insane, of course; and did you hear about the cuts in office staff, groundskeepers and custodians?
But if you think this is just a TUSD problem, then you're not even reading the pages of your own paper. Read Danehy's column in the very same issue that contained this rant. The reason I'm being as gentle with this criticism as I am is because your paper has such a long history of providing in-depth coverage of the many issues we have to deal with in our district -- all while trying desperately to raise student achievement in spite of the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" (obligatory Shakespeare reference to prove that I really am an English teacher) that our detractors continue to hurl in our direction. If you REALLY want to understand all these complex issues, you could always offer to treat Mari Herreras to lunch -- I'm sure she could explain it all to you (I highly recommend her latest look at the whole desegregation mess).
You have every right to be frustrated with what's going on in our district. I see Mark Stegeman's comments on this thread -- ask him if he's happy about any of these cuts. Ask John Pedicone if HE'S happy with them. Ask the 187 teachers who were laid off. Ask the classified staff who are being laid off. Ask any of us who are "lucky" enough to keep our jobs how happy we are about having to say goodbye to colleagues we love and respect, pick up the slack caused by their absences -- all without the help of those so-called "non-classroom" employees upon whom we've always been able to rely for support.
But what you're really not entitled to do is write the general "pissed off parent" rant. You're the editor, not a "guest columnist." You have a responsibility to reflect a broader, better informed view of the complex issues you're trying to address when you write.
Or, at the very least, act like you've read your own paper.
The problem is NOT that the district is too stingy, nor is it a lack of enthusiasm or desire on the part of teachers and others to provide your kids with a high-quality education. We're busting our asses to do the best we can for your kids IN SPITE OF everything our glorious legislature is trying to do to us.
As far as snappy language designed to make the district more appealing to potential applicants, do you really think this helps?
"Sure, there are certainly great things happening in TUSD, even beyond University High, or at least, I'd have to imagine so."
As a matter of fact, Dan, there really are great things happening in TUSD. I could give you several examples from just my school -- and I'm sure other TUSD teachers would be more than happy to talk about all the great things they're doing at their schools. Maybe some day, someone in the media will notice. Perhaps someone in charge of a newspaper, or something...
We're getting off-topic a bit, but I meant that the axing of librarians is a symptom of a larger problem; in that TUSD schools are functionally making themselves less competitive with charters and private schools by offering less and less. I'm certainly aware there are other pressures, but other districts seem to be managing. I really don't understand, as a TUSD parent of two starting this fall, why I should be loyal at all as a parent to an organization that seems to have no particular aim to get better or provide anything more than a bare-bones education to my children?
I support librarians and hope that we can make restorations there too, if not this year then in a future year; but if only librarians are teaching students how to research a topic and find information, then we have other problems as deep as the ones you describe.
Mr. Stegeman, while I appreciate that some of the positions might be restored, the idea that no middle school will have a librarian alone is so deeply insane (if you get to high school without learning how to research a topic and find information, you're already behind the curve for today's workforce) that a second PE teacher isn't going to make me think TUSD has any sort of plan to be a functional school district in the near future. I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
Well said, Mr. G. --- Sad to see our school, and district, slowly hacked to death.
The PE position and the ICE position are being restored (the Board has been informed) and I am (and perhaps other Board members) seeking some additional restorations at that school, based on the unique circumstances, including administrative errors, that have led into this situation. Your disappointment is justified.
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