Bob Gibson Savages Scottie Griffin

Damn:

When members of the Charlottesville School Board hired Scottie Griffin as the city’s school superintendent, did they check out her background?

Did they know that Griffin had sued the Flint, Mich., school system in 1999 and that the suit was settled behind closed doors?

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Did they know that about 30 students and two parents had picketed outside Flint’s Dort Elementary School when Griffin was principal there asking that she be removed from her position?

[...]

Did the Charlottesville School Board know when they hired Griffin from New Orleans that she was being sued there in federal court?

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Did anyone in Charlottesville know that two months after Griffin started in New Orleans that Clay had informed her she was requesting a transfer away from Griffin “due to intolerable working conditions?”

The list goes on, and on, and on. Some folks here on cvillenews.com had done some homework on Griffin and dug up a couple of these things, but obviously the Progress has been hard at work, because, as I said: damn.

It’ll be in Sunday’s paper, but it’s online now.

45 Responses to “Bob Gibson Savages Scottie Griffin”


  • cville_libertarian

    Well…there you go! Big Surprise! Of course, it’s really all just racism, isn’t it? I wonder if Rick Turner knew what he was putting his own reputation behind.

    I think this speaks volumes about the allegations about Griffin’s management style, is very suggestive about who is telling the truth in the conflicts between Dimberg and Griffin, and Purnell and Griffin. Sure, taken independently, in each individual dispute it’s one person’s word against another, but when the same player keeps showing up in each an every conflict, it’s pretty suggestive of the real problem.

    One has to wonder at the odor of corruption with these pre-packaged curriculum deals. Certainly that goes a long way towards explaining the seemingly contradictory push for dealing with the achievement gap that way, as opposed to increasing contact personnel, particularly in the elementary schools. Whether Griffin is corrupt or not isn’t really the point: we should make sure our board and community approach the evaluation of these approaches with the same critical thinking we hope to instill in CCPS students.

    One can only hope that this article will help wear down Griffin’s rumored resistance to reaching a settlement with the system and getting the heck out of dodge. This is much worse than the situation with Dorothea Shannon; hopefully the current school board members who were here during the last superintendant search process will take a different approach this time.

  • I’m curious (and, I admit, somewhat ignorant), but has ANY study ever shown a correlation between the mere existence of a minority super in a school division and the academic achievement (=standardized test scores) of students of like appearance?

    If not, what are the super’s primary qualifications?

    I don’t mean to provoke. I’m just curious.

  • So, let’s see, the rumor is that Griffin was given the option of a 2 year buy-out which she wouldn’t take because;
    a. She’s thinking about falling and getting a medical leave instead,
    b. She’s thinking about suing and settling out of court,
    c. She’s being sued and she has to settle out of court so she needs money badly,

    What a holy terror this woman is????? The rumors have abounded in the system for the last year about this woman, and yet, no one really thought, this could be true. Surely no one could be this evil, mean-spirited and bad!!!!!

    Turner, why are you defending this woman? I wonder how long you would put up with her if she worked for you or better yet; just how long would you work for her? Would you scream racism then? A snake is a snake and defending it won’t change the fact that it is still a snake.

    I work in the Charlottesville Schoolo system and I can assure you that her being a woman and black is not an issue. We don’t object to those qualities. In fact, a black superintendent would be a very good thing for Charlottesville, just not his black superintendent. She makes Sadam Hussein and his sons look like saints.

    And finally, Albermarle is opening up for outside hiring. After this article in Sunday’s paper, just how many of us do you think would stay in this system if this woman is not released from her duties?

    School Board – DO SOMETHING NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

  • I’m definitely going to have to agree with Upset. The language on our intent forms this year made it *very* clear we would be held to our contracts after June 30th (wording that had never previously been on intent forms). It’s my understanding that Albemarle’s intent forms were due on Friday and that their job openings will be posted in the very near future. I suspect the county will find it quite easy to fill its openings this year and not only will the city find itself with many more openings than usual, but not too many people will want to work here.

    I’m still very much up in the air about what I want to do for next year, but I know I don’t want to be stuck on July 1 working in a district that continues to have a very large cloud hanging over its head. I enjoy working in the city. This district was my first choice when I was looking for a job. I wonder, however, what we’ll be left with next year. It is incredibly frustrating to work in a school district that has honestly good intentions but no apparent ability to follow through.

    This is a disaster. And as bad as this makes the School Board look, I think we should remember that we hired a search firm to conduct the search. They need to be held accountable as well. How did they let a woman with all of this baggage end up as a finalist? There were many red flags ignored by both the search firm and the School Board. How can we trust people who could not see what was right in front of them to see and fix the many different aspects of the achievement gap?

  • cville_libertarian

    The problem with search firms is that they are much like real estate agents representing both sides of the transaction. The seller’s agent’s job is to make the house look as attractive as possible: a thorough cleaning, fresh paint, new carpet, cookies in the oven, etc. The buyer’s agent’s job is to find the house they can present as the “ideal” sought by the client. Normally the adversarial role of these advocates is supposed to give both parties the optimal outcome. However, both advocates make their money when there is a deal – their incentive is to make a deal, and smooth out the rough edges even when there is not a great fit. You can imagine what happens without the adversarial relationship.

    It’s the home inspector’s job to check out the house for real; they look for: termite damage in the floor joists, evidence of water damage from a leaking roof, the condition of the furnace and water heater, cracking or leaking foundations, etc. They are also paid by the buyer, and they get paid whether there’s a deal or not! They aren’t selected by the real estate agent(s); but by the lending institution (the real, dispassionate buyer), whose primary interest is in avoiding costly hidden damage.

    When a buyer is in a hurry, or is just swooning over the curb appeal and freshly painted kitchen, they aren’t necessarily very happy to hear about termite damage from the inspector. Real estate agents aren’t always too happy to hear about the inspection either, because they know it can derail a deal.

    I don’t think the search firm is to blame here – they did their job and brought candidates to the board (buyers) who most closely fit what the board wanted. On paper, Griffin was probably a wet dream: black, female and an ‘expert’ in closing the achievement gap. I’m sure the headhunter agency she worked with went to great lengths to polish her up on paper, just as she likely went to great lengths to suppress or minimize some of the messier details of her past. If the search firm was different from the head hunter firm (I have no idea), they still did what they were supposed to do by presenting her, unless it stipulated they research these things and report them. The previous board is squarely to blame for not carefully investigating Griffin, as Bob Gibson’s article suggests was once the practice, or for choosing to ignore what was found.

    It would be very interesting to have the details of the search process (and the previous failed one) brought out into the light for public scrutiny, and to get some idea of how members voted. City council ought to be doing just this – they appointed the board, and they are the ones who bear the ultimate public/political responsibility for the decision. If I were a gambler, I’d wager the board did know about some of this, but had swooned over the idea getting what they thought they wanted, and they chose to ignore the problems. Well, the termites ate up the floor and it collapsed under them. So much for the pretty kitchen with fresh cookies baking, it doesn’t look so good sitting in the leaky basement (to really beat the metaphor to death).

    CvilleYankee and Upset both make the case I tried to point out earlier: this is how strong functioning instutions get broken. If the city has a mass exodus of the existing quality teachers (and dead weight isn’t what leaves under these circumstances), the schools will suffer considerably, even if salaries are raised enough to attract new hires. I suppose it’s a good thing to break institutional memory if you feel the institution itself is really what’s broken.

    In this case it seems that the institutional strength of our system has been the one thing standing in the way of a really toxic influence. Again, if we truly want to get a look at what happens to the AYP, SOL and NCLB numbers when you close the gap by running off the top 50% of students, go ahead and “clean house” in the schools by driving out good teachers.

  • Oh, and one final thing

    THESE WERE HER IMPECCABLE CREDENTIALS!!!!!!!

  • It’s easy to see why the wise say that 85% of the people are blind, deaf, and dumb. 10% of the people know the truth and use it to manipulate the 85%. 5% are the ones who expose the wicked plan of the 10% trying to awaken the 85%. When Gibson first contributed to an article in the Progress our own board host hinted that something big was brewing. Gibson’s concerns only reveal what people behind the scenes have known all along. It is a classic attempt at character assassination to manipulate the masses, black and white to accept the end game that the school board has in sight this week. Racism is still alive and well in this case. The posts thus far on this article reveal this. White folks are going to be very suprised to see the reaction of the black community. The Charlottesville Democrats are about to get an alarming wake-up call, only it will be too late for them to hold on to the power that they have skillfully controlled in this city. What does this have to do with Dr. Griffin? Everything. However, this issue is bigger than her. It’s about power, race, and arrogance. Did Bob Gibson mention that one of the top editors at the Progress is Artie’s buddy? Did Bob prove that the previous lawsuit she filed was frivalous? Did Bob prove that Ms. Clay was correct.? Did he approve any allegation. Do folks in this community think that black people can be pacified with another black superintendent? Those games are old. Belle asks is there any data to support that a black superintendent is better in helping to close the gap. We don’t know. We do know that all the white ones combined haven’t done a damn thing. If spoiled white teachers want to leave, let the quitters go. Your posts don’t vindicate your racist actions over the past year, they only confirm them. Keep your eyes open the people are about to make the “Best Small Town in America” better by destroying the arrogant white power structure that left a vacuum for a tragedy like this to occur.

  • I’m curious what the tipping point of evidence would be for each side in the superintendent debate.

    If some coalition of teachers and students came together to declare Scottie Griffin the greatest superintendent ever, test scores rocketed, and college admissions soared, would those opposed to Ms. Griffin change their minds?

    If documents were unsealed in the two past lawsuits involving Ms. Griffin that exhibited a pattern of working for school districts, angering and alienating teachers, failing to improve students’ education, and documenting illegal or immoral behavior on her part, would her proponents change their minds?

    It would be nice if some final bit of evidence would appear to resolve this to the minds of 99% of the interested population. I suspect, though, that some serious decision is going to happen one way or another based on the existing information, leaving 50% burning and 50% feeling vindicated. Which way that’ll be, I don’t know.

  • Off the subject, but worth noting –
    “They are also paid by the buyer, and they get paid whether there’s a deal or not! They aren’t selected by the real estate agent(s); but by the lending institution (the real, dispassionate buyer), whose primary interest is in avoiding costly hidden damage.

    The Buyer selects the home inspector, not the lender. The only scenario where the lender selects the inspector is in the case of an FHA 203(k) or a rehab loan. An FHA appraiser is much more stringent than a typical appraiser.

  • cville_libertarian

    Jim’s right – I was mixing it up with the appraiser. Thanks for correcting that.

  • Agreeing with Martin Davis concerning the Gibson technique (and it was cleverly done – no one disputes he is an excellent writer) of asking some questions which are provoking without supplying any data of worth, e. g., “Have you stopped beating your husband” or “Mr Jefferson, is it true you and a concubine were secretly married”? One must at the least see some auburn, if not red, flags waving.

    I guess many “insiders” knew much of this long ago.

    It really makes little difference in digging up new background information (unless it proves misrepresentation of facts by the applicant (Griffin)). That dog is out of the hunt and back in the kennel.

    What remains, as we have all remarked is what`s next and by whom (Board or Board and Council).

    Looking past all this, and of course , it will pass, I wonder if perhaps a part of our collective school problems may be solved, or at least lessened, by a directed and concerted thrust of social and educational programs towards improvement of the results the schools are now getting?

    I ask this because I believe in so many cases it is a parent/home problem and that the hours between class ending and the next morning are very important to a child`s success. I don`t mean only home work. I am speaking of home environment. I think teachers agree on this.

    Realizing there is a limit to how intrusive into a home environment an effort can be, I wonder if there is sufficient coordination among the social services and with teachers, to bring action to bear to assist in improving home environments which are pinpointed as contributing to failure in school.

    I am sure there must be some coordination but I have this thought more can be done to pinpoint and alleviate these problems without laying it all in the lap of the schools.

    I make my little old donations to CASA and others but I think there must be a primary effort , centrally coordinated and directed, with official status, and mission to work ” both ends of the problem”. I am sure this is not a unique idea but I think it has not been fully pursued in this City.

    Maybe we need more attention to both ends.

  • Once all the “racist” teachers whom you refer to as “spoiled quitters” leave because they are tired of the abuse that is being hurled at them, who do you think is going to teach Charlottesville’s children? I hate to break it to you, but qualified teachers (white and black) are not beating down the doors to teach in this town. Each year the city “makes do” with people on provisional licensure and with little to no experience. Like all cities with serious social problems, Charlottesville has some excellent and devoted teachers who stay despite the conditions as well as a number of people who stay because the schools need to have warm bodies in the room. Attacking the teachers is a ridiculous way to approach this. They didn’t choose the superintendent. They have not refused a single one of her requests. They have implemented every test she has sent to them to administer (despite the obviously poor quality of them since about 1/3 of the questions have not been proofread properly or do not have a correct answer). They have implemented reading programs, afterschool programs, and talent development programs. They have applied for and gotten grants, some up to $10,000 dollars. Who do you think these programs serve? The Toyota grant is specifically designed to help underachieving students. Are you saying that the idea that won us $10,000, $2,000 per classroom at Walker is only going to serve white children? There’s no logic in that.

    I don’t take issue with anger. In many ways it’s a healthy thing. And I agree that there are deep seated problems that absolutely stem from racism. But people are going to have to stop character assassinating the teachers who come back, year after year because they know they are making a difference for all childen, white and black. Attacking people who routinely work 50+ hour weeks, summer jobs, and still qualify for low-income housing loans simply adds insult to injury.

    I come back every year because I know that every student can learn. But just as a child can’t succeed with a constant barrage of criticism, so teachers shouldn’t be attacked for issues that were around well before they came here (a large percentage of the teachers in Charlottesville have only lived here for 5 years or less). And it seems, that at the rate that the community is destroying each other, these same issues will clearly be here well after teachers leave the area.

    I for one don’t plan to leave. But a little piece of me feels like it’s dying every time someone says that the problems are because the teachers don’t want to teach African American children. I hate to break it to you. No one takes a job in Charlottesville without believing that they can make a difference for children, black and white. I guess the teachers are the only ones left who still believe that the kids matter.

  • I have read Bob Gibson for many years and have never seen this kind of reporting. I cannot believe that Gibson has any kind of agenda. I will trust his reporting before some people’s belief in Ms. Griffin. He has earned his credibility over many years. Ms. Griffin has not.

    I refuse to believe that teachers are the only people who care about kids. Taxpayers in this area give over 60% of their budgets to educate children. Teacher would serve themselves better not to play the constant martyr. Private schools have no problem coming up with teachers and they don’t pay as much. Teachers talk about all the hours they work, welcome to the club. I would work those hours and take off the summer in a minute. The reason teachers can’t afford housing is because of all the retirees that come here with buckets of cash to live in one of the country’s “best places to live”.

    There is no shortage of teachers in the Charlottesville or Albemarle school system. There will never be a shortage. Even the Teacher’s Union admits that teacher shortage will only a problem in urban poorer cities. Affluent counties will not have to ever have to compete with urban system for the best teachers. In the last exit polls money was fifth on the list of reason people leave teaching. They have many more applications then jobs. Both school systems can afford to be very picky. Both system growth rate is below 1% or negative over the last FIVE years. Starting Teacher pay will be $37.5k a year in Albemarle with full retirement and medical. In the first three years 50% leave teaching, this stat has been the same for decades.
    Think of the first job you had after college, how long did you you work before you left that.

  • The Thursday April 21st School Board Meeting lists on its agenda as an information item, the “superintendent’s goals and accomplishments for 2004/2005″. I expect it to be an interesting evening…

  • 1. This whole situation is a pattern of behavior. I have a hard time understanding how people can support someone who is abusive to black and white staff. How can you support someone just because of their color? I really am asking because this is what many believe is happening. I just don’t get it. My concern is that if racism is always the defense how do you know when it is really happening. When does fact take over?

    2. There WILL be a shortage of HIGH QUALITY teachers if salaries are not kept up. It is not the starting salary that is the problem it is later on into the ranges. WHY would any teacher stay in an environment such as this one when they can make more money and live in the community they serve? Those that stay are sacrificing so that they can serve the students they CHOOSE to educate- EVEN those that are white who no one thinks cares or are a bunch of racists. People use the internet to research communities before moving- the things you find about Charlottesville City Schools are not that attractive.
    Private schools don’t have a problem finding teachers because the behavior problems are there but different.

    3. We have kids (black,hispanic, white, asian) that are severly handcuffed when they get to school and their behaviors prevent them from learning. There is no home support, too many hoops to jump through to get them help, and the rest of the kids suffer. If you are not sitting in my classroom seeing how I deal with all of my students respectfully and expect the most from them and use every bit of my patience and energy to help them be the best person they can be AND strive for excellence then YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO CRITICIZE ME. We have many children who are violent and have been exposed to things that many adults would be uncomfortable experiencing. These kids will not learn until the stress of their environment is solved- all the brain learning shows that children in stressful situation are in survival mode and will not develop higher order thinking skills because their brains cannot function at that level. You are more than welcome to come and observe- then we can have a discussion about what you think about my professional abilities that I have trained for and spend most of my FREE summer time studying for and taking classes- which I cover financially myself.
    4. Every time someone says teachers are racist you are calling all teachers racists. Where are all these people (of all races) who care about the poor kids, the poor white kids, the poor black kids, the refugees, the ESL kids, the kids with parents in jail, the kids who have been abused, neglected, the kids who suffer from divorce………. You should be volunteering if not in the schools, somewhere else to help these kids.

    3. I am so frustrated when I hear all this talk from people who are not in the schools. I am very frustrated that the one person who can stop all this will not speak to anyone except the AAReflector. I wish that Dr. Griffin would speak on her on behalf, it would mean a lot to the schools-even if people do not agree.

    4. At least we have some people starting to get the communty involved in solving the problem of the gap- I hope it will be looked at both racially and socioeconomically with a concern for ESL and the Bantus.

    I guess I should have called the rant.

  • Reading the comments by martindavis and others, I am reminded of the article in Harpers by African=American Shelby Steele a Stanford sociologist. An exerpt:

    “Here is a brief litany of obvious truths that have been resisted in the public discourse of black America over the last thirty years: a group is no stronger than its individuals; when individuals transform themselves they transform the group; the freer the individual, the stronger the group; social responsibility begins in individual responsibility. …

    Right after the sixties’ civil-rights victories came what I believe to be the greatest miscalculation in black American history. Others had oppressed us, but this was to be the first “fall” to come by our own hand. We allowed ourselves to see a greater power in America’s liability for our oppression than we saw in ourselves. Thus, we were faithless with ourselves just when we had given ourselves reason to have such faith. We couldn’t have made a worse mistake. We have not been the same since.

    To go after America’s liability we had to locate real transformative power outside ourselves. Worse, we had to see our fate as contingent on America’s paying off that liability. We have been a contingent people ever since, arguing our weakness and white racism in order to ignite the engine of white liability. And this has mired us in a protest-group identity that mistrusts individualism because free individuals might jeopardize the group’s effort to activate this liability

    Two great, immutable forces have driven America’s attitudes, customs, and public policies around race. The first has been white racism, and the second has been white guilt. The civil-rights movement was the dividing line between the two. Certainly there was some guilt before this movement, and no doubt some racism remains after it. But the great achievement of the civil-rights movement was that its relentless moral witness finally defeated the legitimacy of racism as propriety–a principle of social organization, manners, and customs that defines decency itself. …
    What is white guilt? It is not a personal sense of remorse over past wrongs. White guilt is literally a vacuum of moral authority in matters of race, equality, and opportunity that comes from the association of mere white skin with America’s historical racism. It is the stigmatization of whites and, more importantly, American institutions with the sin of racism. Under this stigma white individuals and American institutions must perpetually prove a negative–that they are not racist–to gain enough authority to function in matters of race, equality, and opportunity. If they fail to prove the negative, they will be seen as racists. Political correctness, diversity policies, and multiculturalism are forms of deference that give whites and institutions a way to prove the negative and win reprieve from the racist stigma.”

  • Violet,

    I agree. However, nothing is wrong with fighting a war on two fronts. Individual responsibility is important but holding the establishment accountable should not be trivialized, especially since our dollars are being used to fund their madness.

    Wombat,

    If I refer to any teacher as racist, it would only be those who argue the racist idealogy that has been espoused by many of Dr. Griffin’s detractors. The spoiled quitters are those who want to bail out since the going has gotten tough. If we were playing soccer and the referee was horrible during a tough game, I don’t suspect you would care much about a teammate who decided to quit during the heat of battle. Who would teach the children? I suspect that the good ones wouldn’t leave because they have more vested. Even if they did, can we do any worse?

    Cville Teach,

    1. When you have been on the receiving end of racism, it’s easy to see.
    2. There won’t be shortage of quality teachers.
    3. People are so blinded by the media reports which in many cases have been inaccurate, and the politics of diversion that Griffin’s words thus far have been ignored. It wouldn’t be wise for her to say too much in the midst of dealing with a board that has her in law offices lately.
    4. I agree. All white teachers are not racist and I don’t know one black person that believes they are. However, all white teachers are victim of institutional racism, and so are all black teachers. White teachers have done a good job but can do better. Black teachers can do a good job and can do better. Too many white teachers aren’t doing enough. Too many black teachers aren’t doing enough. Dr. Scottie Griffin needs to do better. Dr. Purnell needs to do better. Dimberg needs to do better. City Council needs to do better. The School board needs to do better. The media needs to do better. The public needs to do better. But, to blame it all on Griffin is racist.

  • Teachcville”There WILL be a shortage of HIGH QUALITY teachers if salaries are not kept up. It is not the starting salary that is the problem it is later on into the ranges. ”

    Salaries have kept up and in most cases have accelerated for teachers in this area. The facts about teacher retention is solidly against your assertion. You even admit that private schools have no problem with retaining teachers and they pay less money. Salary for teacher in this area is very competitive.
    The only way to really improve some salaries is to admit that we should pay science and math teachers more because the competition for those teachers is the fiercest. This is done in the private sector when ever there is a shortage, why not in education?

  • cville_libertarian

    Not that I haven’t run off at the mouth enough already…

    Cornelius: I think you make some excellent suggestions; I would not have the schools come into people’s homes – if that’s the government’s business at all, it should be social services, not educators. However, I honestly believe (and there are plenty of studies to back this up) that the achievement gap starts long before children get into the school systems. Then, much like compounding interest, the gap widens as students move up through the grades. Reading comprehension is the number one impediment to student achievement (after behavioral problems). Students who arrive in the first grade reading already do a lot better than those who don’t; vocabulary gaps also contribute to this. The effects compound as students move up through the grades. Kids who show up already playing catch-up on day one are at a permanent disadvantage, before the schools even come into the picture. We should be doing more, ala Head Start, and intensive reading instruction as early as we possibly can. I think we could, as a society, help ourselves (the whole society), by investing in childcare and early intervention – it’s like preventative care; it’s a lot cheaper and more successful than dealing with the problem later.

    Perlogic: I think your point about teacher retention ignores a few key elements. Private schools don’t have to pay the same salaries because their teachers don’t have anything like the same kinds of demands put on them. Most people very mistakenly think the majority of the job is about relating academic content; for private schools this is true; for public schools 30%(if you’re lucky)-70% of the job is about “classroom management” which is a cute euphemism for running the zoo. Moreover, private school parents, because they actually have to invest ~$10k/year in it, take an active interest in their kid’s performance. Certainly private schools are in a position, generally, to bring a fair amount of pressure on students to work in a way public schools aren’t. Honestly, if you’re competent in your content area, teaching in a private school is just a lot easier, that’s why people will do it for less money. The turnover is a problem; people do move through, largely because they hadn’t realized what it was going to be like running the zoo. The number one thing the school administration could do is back teachers up with classroom discipline. Teachers who send every kid off to the principal’s office are frowned upon. On the other hand, it’s hard to concentrate on instruction when you are trying to keep kids from fighting, mouthing off, etc. and on task.

    Teachcville: Amen – the comments from people blaming the teachers for the miserable acheivement of some students (the schools do an amazing job with a lot of kids) indicate a general naivete and unfamiliarity with what actually goes on in classrooms.

    Violet: What a really great essay. Thanks for posting that.

  • The article I referenced by Shelby Steele is entitled “White Guilt and the Disappearance of the Black Individual”. Harpers Magazine has no electronic archives but you can read the piece at:
    http://www.cir-usa.org/articles/156.html
    I bring up Steele’s work because in my view Dr. Griffin should be considered as an individual, responsible for her own actions. To insist upon considering questions of her competency or of her policies to be motivated by white radicism is to deny her her own individuality—and to use guilt as a weapon to threaten and frighten people into silence, or into withdrawal from the conversation and from the school system. As long as the focus is on the issues and conversation remains civil, I am all for letting go of the “racist conspiracy/modern-day lynching” talk. Let’s move forward with respect and higher expectations.

  • sorry, radicism= racism! late night

  • To insist upon considering questions of her competency or of her policies to be motivated by white radicism is to deny her her own individuality

    Excellent point, Violet.

  • Violet,

    All things being perfect you are correct. However, I think you are naive about the political nature of what has happened. The problem is that in order to operate from that level of objectivity everyone involved must know the truth. I’m not a religious fanatic but there is a scripture that reads, “Justice is afar off, and equity cannot enter because truth has fallen in the streets.” I think there is some level of truth to all the claims, including racism. We can’t just wave a magic wand and ignore the falsehood on both sides that have impacted the situation. If we could peel away the racism, and then peel away the charges of racism then we can see her for what she is definitively. As far as future race relations are concerned, how will it be addressed if every time we ignore it and just look at the individual? ie. A man is a criminal and has been a menace to society. Does that give anyone the right to discriminate against him because of that after he has been hired for a job? If he is treated differently than others who have worked that job don’t those have support his efforts have a right o point out the hypocrisy. Violet, I appreciate the spirit of your writing.

  • This has probably been one of the most enjoyable series of posts to read – a lot of quality writing and insight. Thanks for everyones’ posts. To me, the issue regarding Ms. Griffin is one of efficacy as a leader. If a majority of teachers do not have faith in the administration, the school system will be weak – regardless of the actual abilities of that administration. The administration, therefore, must either (1) correct the staff’s perception of its leader (if the perception is not supported by fact), or (2) correct the administration. An absence of either one of these actions, however, will seriously endanger the quality of services the district provides to its students.

    While it is interesting to debate the practices of the administration, I believe few people have full knowledge of the administration’s efficacy. It is the public’s right, then, first to demand knowledge, then to demand action.

  • As far as future race relations are concerned, how will it be addressed if every time we ignore it and just look at the individual?

    Certainly you’re right: ignoring it every time, all the time is unwise and would lead to unfair situations. By ignoring the system, we fail to see systemic problems. But by looking only at the systems, we likewise fail to see individual problems. Forest for the trees and all that.

    ie. A man is a criminal and has been a menace to society. Does that give anyone the right to discriminate against him because of that after he has been hired for a job?

    To be fair, we’re looking at two separate issues. First, yes, it does give somebody that right — legally, at least, and many would say morally, too. Second, in criminal matters, we have a process of paying our debt to society. I firmly believe that after a man has paid his debt — via jail time or a file or community service or whatever the judge orders — the slate is clean, and they should have all of the rights and responsibilities that other members of society have.

    But what we’re dealing with in the case of Ms. Griffin is civil suits and rather strong accusations of impropriety. One civil suit was settled behind closed doors, another is outstanding, and the impropriety was simply left behind when she was hired by Charlottesville. No satisfaction was come to in these matters, and though I imagine she’d like to have shed her image problems at her past two jobs, I can’t see why that particular slate should be wiped clean.

  • This has probably been one of the most enjoyable series of posts to read – a lot of quality writing and insight.

    I’d just like to second that. This is a topic that tends to get people upset — and rightly so — and there were a few occasions here when I’ve worried that a flame fest could ensue. Instead, there has been calm — though passionate — and reasoned discussion.

    I don’t know if the new format of cvillenews.com has anything to do with it, but whatever the cause, I’m happy about it.

  • I agree with Waldo- the discussion had been very educational.

    One thing I have learned in the past months that I never realized before is (in my opinion) that the white people tend to look at things as individuals (except those that are truly racists). I say we- just the people I know- who care about all people regardless of their skin color. I have noticed that unlike the African American community many whites in C’ville do not have a white collective conscious- so when we look at the critiicism of Dr. Griffin it is not approached or understood as an attack on the black community- although the African American conscious seems to perceive it that way. Since we do not act as a group according to race (contrary to popular belief) we do not understand how our actions are seen as racist. Herein lies the problem. I believe (and please tell me if I am wrong) that one of the problems we are facing as we work towards acceptance and mutual respect is that our communities differ in how we interact ourselves. African Americans join together and support each other because of their race- success and criticism are directed towards the race in their minds- not the person whereas “white folk”are more individualistic in their approach. When we critize or someone of our race is criticized it is their responsibility for the problem. I am in not saying that one way is better than the other- it is just a different approach to life and culture and I could be wrong- I could be wrong but it is an underlying issure that I believe both groups need to look at to understand how we can move on from here. Violet, you have great insight.

    martindavis- I agree- everyone could do better. That is the approach that I would love to hear from more people. I think that is a much more positive way to get everyone to open up and work to solve the problems as a community- thank you.

    perlogik-
    You even admit that private schools have no problem with retaining teachers and they pay less money. Salary for teacher in this area is very competitive.?
    I did not say that private school have no problem retaining teachers.I said……”Private schools don’t have a problem finding teachers because the behavior problems are there but different.”
    And there is a difference. Go sit in a K public school kindergarten class and then go to St. Anne’s etc. see the difference!!!!!! Salaries have been competitive but this year they are not and that drops us behind for the next 5-10 years. People I teach with can make at least 3000 more next year in the county- so where does that put you in 10?

    I wonder where we can go from here?

  • Martindavis, I agree that many of the recent events have developed out of complex and political sources. They must be addressed with compassion on all sides—and a commitment to keep the conversation going. Teachcville, I am very interested in your musings on differences in understandings of group and individual identity. I offer a bit more from Prof. Shelby Steele’s provocative article, as he might be another “voice” in this conversation.

    “One’s group identity is always a mask–a mask replete with a politics. ..[One] must wear the mask that serves [one's] group’s ambitions in these politics.

    With the civil-rights victories, black identity became more carefully calculated around the pursuit of power, because black power was finally possible in America. So, as the repressions of racism receded, the repressions of group identity grew more intense for blacks. …

    Because blacks live amidst such hunger for the moral authority of their race, we embraced protest as a permanent identity in order to capture the fruits of white guilt on an ongoing basis. Again, this was our first fall by our own hand. Still, it is hard to imagine any group of individuals coming out of four centuries of oppression and not angling their identity toward whatever advantage seemed available. White guilt held out the promise of a preferential life in recompense for past injustice, and the protest identity seemed the best way to keep that promise alive….

    An obvious problem here is that we blacks fell into a group identity that has absolutely no other purpose than to collect the fruits of white guilt. And so the themes of protest–a sense of grievance and victimization–evolved into a sensibility, an attitude toward the larger world that enabled us always and easily to feel the grievance whether it was there or not. Protest became the mask of identity, because it defined us in a way that kept whites ‘on the hook.'”

  • I agree with Teachcville and Violet regarding the assertion that there is a difference in racial identity and consciousness between many African-Americans and many White Americans. Because most African-Americans are likely to have had similar experiences regarding race, they tend to share a common perspective some might call culture. Because of the power differential, many African-Americans view elements of their environment through a racial lens. White Americans are on the top side of this power differential, and also represent the majority of individuals walking around town. This means that they have the privilege or burden, depending on how it is seen, of not having to filter environmental stimuli through the same type of racial lens on as frequent a basis. I always ask White Americans to imagine if themselves going to a city in which 86% of the population was African-American. I also ask them to imagine a traditionally African-American part of town (e.g., Prospect), and then to imagine that that location was suddenly all of Charlottesville. How would they feel as a rare White American in such a neighborhood?

    Violet, your thoughts are interesting regarding white guilt. An alternative viewpoint might be that African-Americans must adopt a racialized perspective of the world in order to defend themselves against the effects of racism. It is interesting that you write that such a racialized perspective serves an offensive, or retributional, function (as I perceived your writing). I suppose either or both might be operating in diffierent individuals at different points in time. Please enlighten me if I have mis-spoken regarding your comments.

    I have a series of questions for readers. Everyone reading agrees that the children of Charlottesville deserve the best superintendent. While we have been, in many ways, answering the following questions already, how do you think race affects one’s qualifications to be a superintendent? Is race a qualification or characteristic that should be considered a primary characteristic for candidacy, should race be considered as a factor that influences other characteristics (e.g., being African-American might somehow help one to close the achievement gap more effectively), or should race not be considered at all?

  • Teacherville: You have not fallen signifcantly behind in one year. I constantly hear that county x went up 3.5 and the city went up 3.0. Then someone will say that the city has fallen behind, ignoring the fact that the city was higher to begin with. Bottom line, one year does not a trend make; from year to year trends change. It is alarmist to say otherwise.

    The city, based on surrounding areas, pays teachers a fair wage and increases each year (when you include the increase in med insurance covered by the city) more than equal inflation.
    Behavior problems do make public schools more difficult but this is a problem of administrators and parents who have accepted lower standards, often not by choice. This has nothing to do with salary.

    No school system can completely make up for parents who have done a poor job of preparing students to learn. I have always wondered why people are surprised when a student from a single working parent home that doesn’t stress education has difficulty competing with a child from a college educated, two parent home. I am not saying that the effort should not be made or that it is a hopeless situation and we should meekly accept the facts. The point is to recognize that many of are education’s problems have nothing to do with teachers or school systems. So it is misleading to point a finger at taxpayers and say “ the school system suffers because of you, stingy taxpayer”.

    Violet: I do believe that the race of a superintendent can be a factor. It should only matter if that applicant was near the top of the list when race is not considered. Kind of a tie breaker. That being said I think that the race or gender of the head of Charlottesville schools will make no difference in the quality of education. It will however make a political difference as evidenced by the support from some for Ms Griffin.

  • cville_libertarian

    In a perfect world, race would not matter; we don’t live in a perfect world. I think the discussion about the filter is absolutely appropriate and gets to the heart of the miscommunication between groups; it’s suggestive of the types of limits post-modernists (deconstructionists) see in our thinking as imposed by the filter or structure of language. I think it was Edmund (Edwin?) Sapir, a local anthropologist who first suggested the linkage between language and cultural paradigms – limits on the types of concepts or “ways of seeing things” that is imposed by the building blocks used to create those constructs (language).

    However, we live in the real world and have to cope with those limits. I would suggest that for the CCPS to move forward, we almost have to have an African-American superintendant, at this point. The “filter” has become a limiting factor in the public discourse.

    Perhaps because I’m part of the 85% and I don’t live in Westhaven/Prospect/etc (although I lived for a number of years next door to Westhaven on Starr Hill), I see a number of other factors responsible for the challenges facing the CCPS in serving all of it’s students, but first, and foremost, the challenges posed by socio-economic status. All of the same problems faced by the african american community are also faced by the lower socio-economic class white community – there just isn’t the difference in skin color causing everyone to frame the problems in terms of race. I think a lot of folks are quite rightly suspicious, prima faciae, of skin color – if we are serious about moving beyond this, that ought to be addressed and taken off the table as an issue.

    Maybe that’s just my white guilt, although I’ve certainly not shied away on this forum from speaking up. I think the first Steele essay/article summed it up very well; I am not so sure I would assert that all politically active african americans are simply out to “collect the fruits of white guilt” – I can think of at least three local people I know who don’t operate that way. I think that’s a tad insulting. Not caring much personally about the color of a person’s skin, I say we should find an african american super who is attractive to our entire community.

  • RE: socioeconomic class v. race as THE issue contributing to the challenges faced by certain kids in schools–just to agree with cville_libertarian, I would point out that if you look at the county schools that serve predominantly white, low-income populations, you find poor test scores there too. Yancey, in Esmont, has something like 60% of the kids qualifying for free/reduced price lunch (a pretty good indicator of the socioeconomic conditions in those homes). It’s also about 60% white (not to say that those are the same 60%, of course, but there must be some overlap there). Their test scores look pretty low in comparison to the other county schools. Then you look at a Murray or a Meriwether Lewis (which have 6% and 3% qualifying for free lunch, respectively), and then you look at their test scores (super high, of course). Or you look at a Scottsville Elementary, 93% white but not leading the pack in test scores (possibly because of their 31% qualifying for free lunch?). (You can look up all these data yourself at this handy website: http://www.greatschools.net/modperl/go/VA).

    That’s a roundabout way of saying that it seems pretty clear that achievement gaps have at least as much to do with socioeconomic status, which only PARTLY maps onto race–there’s plenty of poor whites in single-parent families in VA–as with race. I think that the socioeconomic status-gap between whites and blacks in the US DOES have to do institutional racism, but that if you’re going to talk about what to DO in the schools today to address the problems that flow from the socioeconomic status-gap, it seems to me that you should focus on the immediate causes (poverty, single-parentness, etc.) rather than the distant cause (institutional racism, whites in charlottesville not giving a damn about blacks in Charlottesville).

    and before martindavis says “why not fight a war on two fronts,” i would pre-respond–Germany?

  • Cecil,

    Talk about taking a statement out of context.

  • cville_libertarian

    Perlogik: I missed this before…

    “Behavior problems do make public schools more difficult but this is a problem of administrators and parents who have accepted lower standards, often not by choice. This has nothing to do with salary.”

    Your first statement is absolutely correct, and IS the major difference between public and private schools – this is the basis for my invective against Charter schools, as quasi-private. It’s a heck of a lot easier job at every level if you can pick your clientele. Period.

    The public schools are required, under federal and state law, to serve all sorts of people, whether they want to or not. Some come under court order as part of their “sentence.” Think about that for a moment: the courts ordering juvenile offenders back into the schools – white and black. Or, students who have no hope ever of passing something like the SOLs, just because, until age 21, they all have a right to an education. I have memories of kids being brought into the classroom by officers in handcuffs (to my knowledge, this has not happened in years at the ‘regular’ schools, as the city wisely set up the alternative school, but it is still a city school that the CCPS has to pay for).

    You have to fill out an application to get into charter schools and private schools. This is not a trivial difference.

    Your second statement is dead wrong: there is a very direct correlation between the demands of a job, whether a matter of time committment or skills, danger, etc., and the salary an employer has to pay to get people to do the job. Think about the military recruiting crisis. Think about the rationale for sky-high executive salaries, etc. This is basic market economics! Every teacher I know who has left the CCPS to go to work for St. Anne’s (five that I personally know) has done so largely because of the work environment, even though it entailed a pay cut. Economists call these “intangibles”, but they have a $$ valuation nonetheless. If you think there is no difference, why do we have things like combat pay.

    Go spend a few weeks volunteering as an aide in an applied classroom, and you’ll get a much better appreciation for what’s being asked of the dedicated folks who work there, and genuinely care about helping what are after all just kids with a lot of demanding needs.

  • Cville_libertarian, I think you have a point about market economics and how you have to pay people more $$ to get them to do more dangerous/demanding jobs…but then again maybe I don’t! When I was growing up, I went to largely white, well-off, suburban schools (not in this state); there were relatively few major discipline problems in comparison to the city schools (from which my parents white-flighted). But teachers in my district were much better paid than the city school teachers, largely because in the suburb that I lived in, most people voted for the school levies that raised taxes that went directly to the schools. I believe that the city school teachers got paid pretty poorly in relation to the suburban schools. And I believe that’s the case here, as well; county school teachers get paid better than the city school teachers, don’t they? Arguably it’s a lot easier to teach at Meriwether Lewis than at Clark simply because kids at Clark bring a lot more behavioral/academic challenges with them.

    It’s true that private schools do tend to pay less than public schools, but it’s not true (I believe) that the “easy” public school systems pay less than the “tough” public school systems, nor is it true (I believe) that the toughest public school systems are paying the best $$ of all public schools. Often I think it’s the reverse.

    Moreover, this theory doesn’t explain why someone like a university professor, with the cushiest, most non-demanding (seriously, and I come from a family of them, and I’m telling you that it’s a relatively easy job) can get really great pay while someone who works as a cop or a firefighter gets paid doodly-squat?

    I’ve known corporate executives–there’s rarely anything they do, IMHO, that really justifies their high rate of pay in comparison to a cop or a firefighter.

    MartinDavis, I’m not sure why you think I took your statement out of context: you wrote, in response to Violet, “nothing is wrong with fighting a war on two fronts,” the two fronts being 1. rallying the community/individuals to work on themselves and 2. attacking the outside forces responsible for institutional racism. You think it’s fine to go at both of these fronts simultaneously. I suggest that Germany got into a little bit of trouble when the Nazi-Soviet pact crumbled and they found themselves fighting a war on two fronts–they found that they weren’t able to address either front effectively and the whole thing collapsed. How is that out of context?

  • cville_libertarian

    Cecil, I don’t think your point and mine are fundamentally different; you make an assumption that we’re talking about teachers as ‘fungible’ – all teachers being of interchangeable quality. This is the reason poor-inner-city school districts have a harder time attracting quality teachers – it’s one of the fundamental complaints about racism in those school system: they have disproportionately minority student populations, and they are more poorly funded than suburban schools. Read articles in the Washington Post about DC city schools vs. the NOVA suburbs; this is a constant undercurrent.

    The reason university professors get paid a lot more for an apparently cushy job (and I work for the university, so I know exactly what you’re alluding to) is that in many respects they’re not “easier” or more “cushy”. There are a lot of variables that go into job valuations:

    – opportunity cost: it’s a lot harder to get a PhD than firefighter certification
    – entry requirements: by and large, the level of academic work and raw intelligence required to do the job restricts the labor market to a smaller percentage of the population than for firefighters, police, etc.
    – it’s very tough work until you get tenure; ask your family about that part.

    In general, this limits the pool of people who can do the job, so you’re working in a tighter labor market, and command a higher salary.

    I can’t really speak to whether the labor markets truly reflect the general societal value of various jobs/roles. To a degree, something is worth what somebody will pay you for it. On the other hand, I wish as a society we’d have higher standards for a number of jobs, firefighting, police and teachers included, and pay the corresponding salaries. You get what you pay for.

    Again, this is what the current teachers on here (I am a former teacher) are talking about when they say they will head for the county.

    I do not think the CCPS qualifies as “inner city” in general, and certainly not relative to the county. If you think of “inner city”=minority, well, you’ve got some racist notions, and you’d be in for a rude awakening at Scottsville Elementary and Walton Middle schools, among others.

    And, a final addendum, and I’ll shut up (I promise):

    I was referring to special education students under Public Law 94-142, when I mentioned the public schools are required to educate kids with no chance of passing. These students often include the severely mentally retarded or mentally handicapped; “IQ’s” under 70, or unable to even physically care for themselves. You would absolutely be stunned at the per-pupil costs of some of these children.

    I applaud the impetus behind this law, and the attempt by the system to develop IEPs for these students that give them some meaningful or useful education, often in life skills. However, there is no way a lot of these kids are going to pass the SOLs, and as I understand it, NCLB was not written with exemptions/exceptions for these kids! I believe that’s why Virginia, among other states, is fighting the Federal government over this. Those kids are being counted in the ‘numbers’ the schools have to meet. Those kids cost the schools real money from their budgets.

    Private Schools do not deal with these kids! That’s part of the reason they can do it so much cheaper and still have better outcomes! Really, apples to oranges! If you don’t believe me, ask the school system for numbers. I am not an investigative reporter, but perhaps the Progress, Hook or C-ville could put someone on this!

    People who carry on about the schools with a pleasant, fuzzy memory of the ‘normal’ kids in their ‘normal classrooms’ as part of their ‘normal childhood’ are only thinking of this situation in terms of a limited set of data; they are not dealing with the whole picture/problem. If you graduated before 1975 (when that law came into effect), you’re from a time when those kids were not in the schools. Chances are, unless you graduated in the late 90s when ‘mainstreaming’ became more of an emphasis, you were segregated from those kids (school within a school). You are also from a time when it was a lot easier to expel kids who were serious behavior problems. The drop out rates used to be a _lot_ higher.

    As I said in my first posts on the CCPS, this is a statistics/demographics problem. That’s why Rod Paige was so successful down in Texas: they figured out some cute tricks with the numbers to push these kids out of the schools and off their books. They did not come up with a better mouse-trap to actually educate the kids. I guess that’s the ‘corporate’ model so in vogue these days. Google (or your favorite search engine) on Houston Schools and dropouts; add Dr. Paige if you want. You will find ample information about this.

    The reason I’m so strident about all of this, is I believe the CCPS actually already does an amazing job with the kids they’ve got – far better than most private schools would. I think the truth about the charter school movement is also starting to come in: they aren’t doing any better than the public schools – at best they are doing as well, generally worse – even according to studies the charter-school-friendly Federal Education Dept.

    I believe the CCPS is already full of dedicated professionals who work very hard because they love the kids, certainly not for the money or that old perjorative “to get their summers off”. The ones who feel that way become Real Estate agents (check that little tidbit out; I personally know of at least ten in our area alone – talk about a job with low barriers to entry) – you can make a lot more money and keep way easier hours. Attacking those people will only result in a “dead” system, and I don’t think it will turn around – many people will say, gee, just give it a shot, but there is a notion of reversable and irreversable reactions in Chemisty – this is an irreversable reaction.

  • Cville_libertarian – great post. A lot of great information. You are absolutely correct in your statement that teachers from lower-income schools tend to make less money – historically. However, there are several recent initiatives in localities nationwide to increase compensation to staff at low-achieving schools. One friend experiencing one such initiative refered to receiving “poverty pay,” which in that particular district translates into 10% more money per year if one works in a school with a free or reduced lunch enrollment of 90% or higher. Some administrators are starting to realize the connection you effectively pointed out and, slowly, are starting to correct it.

    It is also true, however, that many teachers become teachers because they love to teach – not to manage behavior. Kids with behavior problems often distract teachers from academic instruction. Overall, many elements in the classroom are more difficult in low-income schools – instruction included. This, no doubt, affects the high turnover rate experienced by such schools. It is not simply an economic issue.

    It will be interesting to see, then, if teachers will weather the behavioral storms more prevalent in low-income if the money is right. One might wonder, however, if money alone (perhaps leading to more faculty stability) will improve the quality of education in public schools and improve those good old SOL scores.

    On a somewhat related yet most likely tangential departure from the rest of my post, I think it’s important to distinguish between motivation and skill of teachers. Having worked with folks in several school systems, I do see highly dedicated teachers who work incredibly hard for their children. However, this dedication does not translate into skill necessarily. To be sure, there are highly skilled teachers. However, many teachers are not adequately prepared for the job. Teacher education programs often lack fundamental instruction necessary for their pre-service teachers to be effective in areas such as reading instruction and behavior management. In addition, teachers are not compensated well, and have relatively low status in our society. As a result, we are not always able to recruit the most skilled individuals into the profession. Medicine, law, and business are just three areas that are more attractive to many. Once teachers begin teaching, there is often not an adequate in-service training program in schools. In-services are often poorly attended, poorly run, and frequently result in little teacher behavior change or improvement.

    If someone referred me to a doctor because that doctor really cared about his or her patients, my first question would pertain to that doctor’s skill level in medicine. No one would go to an incompetent doctor simply because that doctor cared about him or her. The same standard should be applied to educators. Hopefully the improvements we are seeing in how we treat teachers (some might disagree that there are such improvements – rightfully so) will improve both educators’ skill and dedication.

  • cville_libertarian

    rfc9s: I promised I’d shut up, but instead I’ll keep it short; I would respond in private if we could do that on here (I guess the relative anonymity does speak volumes about my “white guilt” or I’d post an email address). There is a lot in your post that I would happily expand on; I’m in agreement with everything you’ve said. Teacher education and certification (and performance measures generally) are lacking (abysmal in some cases), but thats a whole ‘nother subject. We’ve gotten pretty far afield from the original article, so good night and here’s looking forward to an ongoing discussion about the schools, with or without carping about Dr. Griffin as the stimulus.

    Waldo: thanks for the soapbox!

  • cville_libertarian “there is a very direct correlation between the demands of a job, whether a matter of time commitment or skills, danger, etc., and the salary an employer has to pay to get people to do the job”

    What you say is true but has nothing to do with the behavior in the city schools. You could double teachers’ salaries but that won’t significantly reduce behavior problems. And there is no shortage of teachers’ application in the city, so by your own logic salaries must be fair. If there aren’t vacancies then salaries must be sufficient to fill all slots. And unless you willing to say the city hires unqualified teachers then no vacancies = market salaries. And more money doesn’t guarantee better education.

  • cville_libertarian “there is a very direct correlation between the demands of a job, whether a matter of time commitment or skills, danger, etc., and the salary an employer has to pay to get people to do the job”

    What you say is true but has nothing to do with the behavior in the city schools. You could double teachers’ salaries but that won’t significantly reduce behavior problems. And there is no shortage of teachers’ application in the city, so by your own logic salaries must be fair. If there aren’t vacancies then salaries must be sufficient to fill all slots. And unless you willing to say the city hires unqualified teachers then no vacancies = market salaries. And more money doesn’t guarantee better education.

  • What you say is true but has nothing to do with the behavior in the city schools. You could double teachers’ salaries but that won’t significantly reduce behavior problems. And there is no shortage of teachers’ application in the city, so by your own logic salaries must be fair. If there aren’t vacancies then salaries must be sufficient to fill all slots. And unless you willing to say the city hires unqualified teachers then no vacancies = market salaries. And more money doesn’t guarantee better education.

    Now I think this is very interesting. What noone is talking about is the factthat to be a great manager of the classroom you need to have experience. This only comes after your 3rd year (ask any teacher). We have problems now that experienced teachers are meeting on to put their heads together to combat and still can’t come up with answers. Not everyone cares about thier kids as much as you do- proven as you write to this blg- BUT teachers care about all their kids- often more about their behavior problems because we know what will happen to them.
    Cville- because of the Univeristy will always have wives or husbands of those who are in grad school teaching in the system until graduation and then they will be gone- there is nothing here to make them stay- something noone seems to acknowledge. For OUR students to succeed WE need experienced teachers who know what life is like in the projects and have some ties to the community. Without this the 3 year turnover will continue. Perlogik- you don’t have to agree with me BUT look at the facts and dig up some research before you respond. The cost of living in cville is much like DC who pays higher salaries- so what is the draw?

  • cville_libertarian

    I would readily admit that the school system has hired some “unqualified” teachers – in particular the HS has had quite a bit of difficulty in it’s math department. They have had to either:

    – hire someone who could handle the classroom but not math
    – hire someone who could handle math but not the classroom

    I wouldn’t say they were incompetent hires, but certainly less than ideal. There are other examples. Yes, my logic holds.

    There are other factors in the labor market, just as Teachcville notes: we are fortunate to have a steady pool of good applicants who are drawn to the area for other reasons (an economic intangible in favor of the local system – it’s why we’ve gotten away with the status quo for so long), and for whom good salaries are also not sufficient for retention.

    My point was not that we should just throw money at the schools; I pay an enormous amount in city property taxes; I’m not anxious to pay more. However, I am critical of two things:

    – the notion teachers are overpaid; retention would be better overall if salaries were better, especially among qualified teachers. Working conditions are part of the economic equation.
    – the disproportionate spending on Central office vs. contact personnel.

    I originally critized Griffin for the latter; the personnel budget is far in a way the largest part of the budget; the fact that over 50% of it is on non-contact personnel is very troublesome to me. She was accelerating that trend. I think it should be spent on reading specialists and competitive salaries for math and science teachers. History and English teachers are the easiest to come up with; math and science are very difficult because people with those skills can generally find work in other fields which is a lot more financially rewarding.

    If salaries stay constant, and the working environment gets worse, the quality of the teachers you get will go downhill. This is already happening, particularly in math and science. Ask Michael Heard how easy it is to hire those folks if you don’t believe me. Stronger skills go for a better deal; deadweight sticks around.

    ps – the HS math dept. has some excellent people too. I wouldn’t want to give the impression it’s an “incompetent” department.

  • cville_libertarian

    And, you’re right: salaries won’t improve student behavior, different administrative attitudes will. That requires backing from Central Office, and racial politics are not conducive to that. There is a lot of pressure to find a way to keep kids in school, and at the end of the day, it probably is better for everyone if they’re there rather than on the street. I do not have a good answer to that problem; as Teachcville says, a lot of good people really aren’t sure what to do. I will go back to one of my original points: this starts in the home, and is really beyond the ability of the schools to address. Parents must take an active role, supportive of the schools. Often it’s the other way around. This, also, is not a black or white issue, it does correlate strongly with socio-economic status.

    Teachcville: I smiled before Thanksgiving and they ate my lunch ;-)

  • Well….. I hope you enjoyed your lunch, I have been baking my desset since then and now will enjoy it.

  • Although I think many of you thoroughly enjoyed Shelby Steele’s article, it really won’t go far in influencing the average African-American. It’s no secret that Steele is a staunch conservative that is anti affirmative action. That fact alone will discredit him terribly in the eyes of black folks. Dr. Cornel West, renowned scholar and author of “Race Matters,” debated Steele on his concept of the individual, excerpts are below:

    “If we reach the point where the very notion of being a citizen is simply a matter of manipulation of individual interests and group interests and there is no overwhelming notion of the common good of public interest, we are already headed for war. I’m not that pessimistic. I’m a person of hope. Clarence Thomas in many ways has said the same things that you are saying. He has a picture of Malcolm X in his office. Why? Because he fundamentally believes that most white folks will never change and therefore all black folks can do is fall back on their own resources because the very notion of being tied together for the common good is a joke. And that is a certain kind of conservative implication because it no longer believes in the possibility of mutual respect between cultures, no matter what color they are, it’s not what people believe but what really happens on the ground.”

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