• Hey Stamford BOE, How Do You Spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

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    The late, great Tina Turner certainly knows how to spell respect, but does the Stamford Board of Education (BOE) as well as central office leaders?

    Usually when one is hired at the central office level in the public schools, it is because of their classroom/leadership experiences as well as required certifications. In the Stamford Public Schools (SPS), this isn’t always the case. Two of the four central office administrators, have never managed classrooms of students, rolled out a curriculum, taught learning objectives, or assessed achievement levels.

    First, to remedy this situation, one of these two central office leaders is teaching 19 days of summer school, to say ‘I finally taught’. Even though this leader never took a summer job from a certified teacher, the Stamford Education Association (SEA) President is fine with it because this person may garner more respect when overseeing 1,500 teachers.  Meanwhile, this central office leader, who just became the Chief Academic Officer on July 1st, is now spending 5 hours daily focused on summer school students who failed a reading and/or mathematics class—hopefully this person is being supervised because the techniques used for teaching remedial learners is very specific and intentional. This also means only three hours are left to supervise district-wide curriculum committees and organize professional development. Are taxpayers really getting their money's worth when this leader is subbing for 63% of July? In addition, does SPS really need a fifth central office leader—designated in June’s BOE meeting—just to help manage leadership responsibilities when another leader could spend their time subbing?

    Second, this is highly concerning because this 19-day summer school substitute is being paid $219,783 a year.  Knowing this person’s speech therapy certification expired in 2009, this begs the question if teaching certifications are really necessary in public schools or is SEA/CEA/NEA just crying foul for ‘lack of teachers’? In conjunction, just because this person was a principal doesn’t mean they truly understand instructional leadership—principal’s deal with administrative duties, not front-and-center teaching and high-stake testing pressure.

    Third, SEA teachers not only gave central office leaders Votes of No Confidence, but for two years and counting, a majority have struggled with low morale and lack of trust in central office leadership. How do you spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T again?

    Most disheartening, the Stamford BOE continues to support central office leaders despite the low achievement scores and lack of curriculum over a ten-year period. This board also just gave the superintendent a new 3-year contract. Meanwhile, hiring of teachers continues to be a concern, especially in the area of special education with no strategies in sight. Bus safety and discipline are also very inconsistent. Many students, too, need more equitable options to be successful—media centers in all schools, separate bilingual and alternative programs and last, but not least, all administrators need to be consistently evaluated and held accountable. Now really, R-E-S-P-E-C-T is not an issue whatsoever, is it?

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    Robert A. Porrazzo

    Minor correction...Aretha Franklin taught us all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

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