Thursday, November 8, 2012

Where do they find these jewels?

First there was the spin person hired out of Florida to help the State Department of Education manage communications (that’s PR-speak for obfuscating the disaster that our education policy has become). Without having to even move to Louisiana, Dierdre Finn, a veteran of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s political machine, has joined the ranks of high-paid DOE apparatchiks.

Then we discovered that the department’s new director in charge of teacher evaluation – which now governs every aspect of a teacher’s career, from tenure to compensation to termination – is Molly Horstman, a 27-year old, non-certified, two-year veteran teacher who did not pass PRAXIS.

Third in this sad clown car of questionable employment decisions is DOE’s new promoter of “course choice” options, motivational speaker Lefty Lefkowith. His chief claim to fame, aside from association with the aforementioned Gov. Bush, seems to have been huckstering for schemes to deregulate energy and manipulate water rights in Florida.

Now into the center ring stumbles newly appointed Deputy Superintendent for District Support Mike Rounds, who will be paid $170,000 per year (hat tip to Tom Aswell for uncovering the story).

Rounds left his last position as chief operating officer for the Kansas City school system under somewhat of a cloud. Aswell’s post describes the sleazy dealings that were uncovered by investigative reporters in KC.

Rounds and Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White have something in common. Both “earned” their superintendent’s credentials by attending the Broad Academy.

The Academy's Web site claims that it takes "executives who have experience successfully leading large organizations and a passion for public service" and, after six weekends of training over a 10-month period, "places them in urban school districts to dramatically improve the quality of education for America’s students."

White taught for two years as a Teach for America volunteer, then went to work as executive director of Teach for America in Chicago. From there, he served a stint as deputy chancellor for New York City schools, where his passion was in closing down public schools and converting them to charters. That wealth of experience bought him passage to Louisiana, where he briefly headed the Recovery School District before, at age 35, he was picked by Gov. Bobby Jindal to replace Paul Pastorek as superintendent.

There is an emerging trend in Louisiana’s education bureaucracy: Minimal professional credentials, little or no experience as an educator, allegiance to an ideology of privatization, disdain for professionals who have chosen education as their life’s calling. And salaries higher than any classroom teacher dare dream of ever earning.

Where do they find these jewels?

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