City Officials Off to Italy

School board chairman Alvin Edwards, superintendent Rosa Atkins and Mayor David Brown left for their trip to Tuscany today, following a tumultuous, unsettled debate over whether they should go at all. Councilor Kendra Hamilton canceled her involvement on Monday night, followed by Atkins yesterday evening. It was announced that an anonymous donor was covering the cost of school official Gertrude Ivory, who then pulled out, with the donor then covering the going-again Atkins. The purpose of the trip is to celebrate thirty years of Charlottesville and Poggio a Caiano, looking into a school exchange program, and talking about tourism.

After all of this fuss, the three of them are going to need this vacation.

97 thoughts on “City Officials Off to Italy”

  1. There is a new thread, so I’m posting this here.

    Jefferson must be spinning. “It is our duty and our interest to cultivate with all nations… a spirit of justice and friendly accommodation.” –Thos Jefferson, 1802. A very close friend of Phillip Mazzei from Poggio. The quote is from a UVA site, BTW. Travel, expanded knowledge and foreign relations are highly valued in a *university* setting, even if it means paying for it.

    This Cville skirmish is neither World nor Class. I used to believe the talk about this “special” place but the tide has turned. Maybe the notion of democracy is in decline, having been swapped for a new form of political consumerism: If your latte has caramel rather than a hazelnut shot of flavor, by Gawd, FIRE someone or torch the company!

    Elected officials serve the public, yes. But the public also has an obligation to accommodate the discomfort of “representational” democracy and engage in civil discourse. Consider that the actual job, not distrust and cynicism is the first consideration of many leaders—which used to be the business of governance. Look at recent gains in City school achievements and programs for the evidence.

    Shame is a quaint concept these days but shame on all you sideline cynics—who know the price of everything but the value of nothing (Oscar Wilde on that one.) This was so mean-spirited that it hurt people on both sides of the ocean. Principle is just a fancy word to hide behind. When are we going to do the real work of “community?”

  2. Well it looks like a vacation to me.

    Below is the itinerary as sent by Poggio a Caiano. Additional meetings will be scheduled once there regarding economic development and artist exchanges.

    Program for Visit by the Charlottesville Delegation on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Sister-City exchange

    Thursday, Nov. 8
    12:30 p.m. arrival at Peretola Airport for Rosa Atkins, Gertrude Ivory and Alvin Edwards. They will be taken from airport to Hotel Hermitage, Poggio a Caiano by two cars sent by Town of Poggio

    3:30 p.m. arrival at Peretola Airport for David Brown and Kendra Hamilton. They will reach Poggio in their rental car.

    7:00 p.m., Hotel Hermitage: Mayor Gelli and Assessore Formichella will welcome guests.

    7:30 p.m. light dinner at the Antica Trattoria del Tramway with Mayor Gelli, Formichella, Conte, Pirronello, Puggelli

    Friday, Nov. 9
    9.30 working meeting at the Medici Stables building and a visit to the School spaces that can be made into a dormitory, to better arrange the exchange of lower-middle school students (translation: Maddie Bacarelli)

    11:30 a.m. visit of the Middle School with the participation of students and English language teachers (assessore Castellano and councilor Conte). Lunch at the school.

    5:00 p.m. Town Council in the Salone Leone X for official celebration of the 30th anniversary of the sister city relationship (translation: Miranda MacPhail);
    Speakers will include:
    -Silvano Gelli, Mayor of Poggio a Caiano
    -Massimo Logli, President of the Prato Province
    -Nora B. Dempsey, USA Consul in Florence
    -David Brown, Mayor of Charlottesville
    -Sergio Pezzati, ex-Mayor of Poggio and signer of the sister city agreement
    -majority leader of the Town Council
    -minority leader of the Town Council
    -Angelo Formichella, Councilor for Cultural Affairs, will make concluding remarks

    8:00 p.m. Prato, dinner offered by the Province of Prato

    Saturday, Nov. 10
    Daytime: On your own

    8:00 p.m. dinner at the Circolo dell’Antica Chiesa di Bonistallo (place where Mazzei was baptised) for fifty people (with the Pro-Loco).

    Sunday, Nov.11
    9.30 a.m : tour of the Montalbano mountain area ( Carmignano : the Visitation painting by Pontormo; Vinci: the Leonardo Museum , especially interesting for scholastic delegates) transport with our own cars.

    Afternoon: On your own

    8:00 p.m. dinner at the house of vice-mayor Marco Martini. ( Kendra and Paola, Marco’s wife, will cook together )

    Monday, Nov. 12
    9:30 a.m. meeting with the Prato High Schools to discuss student exchanges (with Assessore Paola Giugni from the Prato Province and Assessore Castellano of Poggio; translation: Maddie Bacarelli)

    1:00/1:30 p.m. Lunch in Prato with the school principals.

    3:00p.m. visit to the Museum of Still-Life Painting

    7:00 p.m. visit to the Medici Villa in Artimino
    8:00 p.m. farewell dinner (annex restaurant) with the Town selectmen and all the Council; local figures.

    Tuesday, Nov. 13
    9:30 a.m. meeting for farewells at the Scuderie building.

    10:15 a.m.departure for the Peretola airport.

  3. I would have supported the “real work of THIS community” if they had gone to visit some of the refugee camps some of our IRC children come from. “real work” in Tuscany? I ain’t buying it…

  4. Whatever, dude. This trip is an outrageous misuse of public money, and a direct result of having one party so dominate city government that it grows corrupt even as it remains unaccountable.

  5. is it legal for an anonymous person to donate money to a public official? if someone else is paying, is the official working for that person or for the public? conflict of interest? is this the opposite of transparent? secret funding? are the tickets non-refundable? 3 for the price of 5…what a great deal.

  6. Werdsworth, you are an idiot who has clearly not spent a minute inside of our public schools, much like our superintendent.

  7. Waldo and Werdsworth,

    I am sorry for using the term “idiot.” I am a first time blogger and unfamiliar with blogging etiquette. I am not certain, but I feel I probably overstepped my bounds. Werdsworth, what’s a better word for someone who has no first-hand knowledge of something, but somehow thinks he’s an expert?

  8. Thank you for that follow-up, “Cynic.” I was prepared to launch into a speech about civility and reasonable discourse, and now I’ve got no outlet for it. :) Now I’ll have to lecture my beagle before bed. ;)

    To answer your question, rather than find an adjective, why not explain the points on which Werdsworth is wrong? Frankly, I’d really appreciate that, because I, too, believe that Werdsworth is wrong, but I’m simply not equipped with the facts that back up what really is just a belief. If you could provide a rebuttal, I think I’d be much better equipped to figure out where I stand here, especially since Werdsworth has provided a pretty good defense of this trip.

  9. Consider that the actual job, not distrust and cynicism is the first consideration of many leaders—which used to be the business of governance.

    Cynic, I think you might have overcorrected. It’s hard to tell whether Werdsworth is someone who is suffering from an inability to think or from a communication problem. Realistically though, it’s probably both and you actually were pretty much on the mark if you consider the term “idiot” in the way it might have been used in Jefferson’s time.I checked with the highly esteemed authority Wikipedia and found the following, which I’ve trimmed slightly. It isn’t hard to find for those of you who want to fact check my sources.

    “Declining to take part in public life, such as democratic government of the polis (city state), such as the Athenian democracy, was considered dishonorable. “Idiots” were seen as having bad judgment in public and political matters. Over time, the term “idiot” shifted away from its original connotation of selfishness and came to refer to individuals with overall bad judgment–individuals who are “stupid”. In modern English usage, the terms “idiot” and “idiocy” describe an extreme folly or stupidity, its symptoms (foolish or stupid utterance or deed).

  10. Waldo,

    All Werdsworth is really saying, if you brush aside the all the fancy werds and phrases, is that:

    1. we have a responsibility to connect with other nations,
    2. we have to put up with what our elected leaders decide to do, since we elected them, and
    3. things are good enough here at home (recent gains) that we should not have raised a fuss.

    To begin with, neither she, nor Ms. Ivory, nor some of the board were elected. My next concern is that Werdsworth may be mistakenly attributing the “gains” to leadership rather than to the hard work of teachers. Finally, I dispute the gains and will only believe in them if we see consistent results over the course of several years. Like many teachers, I instead see a growing gang influence in our schools, too many dropouts, too little teacher retention, morale issues, and teachers paying out of pocket for things that are necessary if teaching and learning are going to happen in the classroom.

    This trip is a bit like investing in space travel while your childhood poverty rate is over the twenty-five percent mark.

  11. Well, that’s sad because then we’d never get into space. It’s also sad because shoving forward technologically is something the government is nicely equipped to do; expensive and hard R&D is a huge gamble not often undertaken by the private sector. Other than the space program our governmental R&D tends to be overwhelmingly military — of course, so is a portion of the space program expenditure.

    My point here is the same one I made before: I don’t have an overwhelming opinion about this particular governmental stop at Starbucks. I’m more focused on how often the government stops at Starbucks and what we could have done instead with the money spent on the last 20 lattes.

    I’m also quite bemused that the $5000 spent on Art in Place and now the $6000 spent on a trip to Italy generate so much response, but the larger choices made in our $100 million budget get little discussion. Is it a question of scale, do you think?

  12. I consider this to be a discussion, not an argument, which implies an exploration of ideas and facts. (I have spent a lot of time in public schools and I am a bit chagrined my poor reasoning reflected that so quickly.)

    I believe all of the things mentioned here are true. I’m not disputing any facts about what goes on in schools and, for heaven’s sakes, I cannot praise teachers highly enough for the work they do. But in the *context* of supporting schools, it doesn’t have to be an “either/or” thing. Teachers are not pitted against school leaders, elected or hired. The structure of the public school system–like any organization, be it a business, agency, association or what have you–is such that it demands cooperation and accommodation if the system is going to work well. The better fight is how do we realize a school system where students and teachers are fully supported?

    I don’t want to lead the discussion too far from this mark but as for the “idiot” definition: “Stupidity: The Movie” provides a pretty thorough look at this, based on Tredgold’s definitions of feeble-mindedness in 1937 or so. Idiot indicated a mental age of 1-2 years; imbecile, 3-7; moron, 8-12 years. Ireland expounds:

    “The moron, on the other hand, is usually unrecognized by the layman, at least until he is almost an adult and even then is thought of as being merely peculiar or is characterized by some such expression as “not quite all there,” “eccentric, “ignorant.” …They are, however, quite trainable in industrial and occupational work, anything of routine character not requiring judgment. They are almost never self-directing but require more or less constant oversight.”

    So I’m definitely throwing in with the morons on this one.

  13. Since this is already flying around the town, might as well share it with everyone: Charlie Kollmansperger’s letter to the School Board (bottom) and Alvin Edwards’ response (just below), which inadvertently went to a third party…so it’s not about public money and foreign travel–it’s about race! Lovely. No wonder our schools are a mess.

    Edwards email:

    Well, that is not true. I have as many persons as the emails who agree with the trip. So, who is right? Also, I can assure you at the next meeting you will have a person(s) who believe the issue is about race – because 4 of the 5 were African-Americans going. Charlie you can speak for yourself, but not the school board, or a whole community. I speak for me, and I represent people in the community, just as you. I am trying to discourage folks from screaming racism (by the way, the persons are not all black either), because this school system has made more progress in 18 months, than it has made in years. If you and others want to keep this argument going, you can. All it will be is a distraction and become a very divisive issue, and if and when it does, who will be the blame? My thoughts, Alvin

    Kollmansperger email:’


    I wanted to bring up some critical points that seemed to have been either misunderstood or misstated with regards to this trip and the process involved.

    1. While Mrs. Akins did tell the board about the trip to Italy
    following one of our meetings and in her August memo to the board, neither one of these communications revealed specifics as to who would be going, how the trip would be financed, or when the trip would be brought up for discussion and/or approval. While individual board members may have been part of subsequent discussion/decision making, I, and the overwhelming majority of our school community, was most certainly not part of this process. I also know that other board members even as late as last week did not know all the details of this trip- specifically, one colleague explained to me last Wednesday that not only did he not know that Ms. Ivory was going,
    but that he also would have expressed concern, had he known, in sending both Mrs. Atkins and Ms. Ivory abroad. There was no press release from the schools about this trip nor was this news posted on the division website; details which seem contradictory the stated significance of the trip.

    Needless to say, this lack of disclosure is troubling to me, especially when I recently discovered that a trip proposed by one of our teachers to our sister city in France (for which she had offered to foot the bill) had been dismissed by the administration.

    2. I am also amazed and disappointed in how many of us have chosen to
    close ranks in support of this trip despite the very clear signals of
    disapproval from our community. Cloaking this trip under the banner of our strategic plan seems to be both a disingenuous attempt to cover our tails and disregards the many other priorities on which we should be focused. Frankly, I could utilize similar reasoning to justify sending a “scouting party” to Disney World! Such decision-making reflects a major disconnect from the more pressing needs of our students and their parents and is demoralizing to our school staff.

    3. I have yet to see any show of support for this trip from anyone
    outside of the school administration and school board. In fact, the e-mails and phone calls which I and others have received have been overwhelmingly opposed to the trip and the process by which the decision was made. As stewards of our schools for the community, we must respond decisively to the feedback received regarding this trip and other decisions that impact our students and teachers. While I recognize the need to respect the judgment of our administrators, I don’t think it’s appropriate to “rubber-stamp” every recommendation put forth without first assessing both the importance and impact our decisions will have on those we serve. It is just as important, if we expect to be supported rather than criticized, that we conduct our business as transparently as possible.

    In closing, I urge each of you to reconsider this decision either by putting this trip on hold, scrapping it altogether, or at the very least limiting our representation to Mrs. Atkins alone.

    Thank you,


  14. Wow! I think that sort of veiled threat of trouble for speaking out on the issue itself demonstrates judgement other that what I would hope for from my elected officials.

    I wonder if the person(s) showing up at the meeting to cry racism will be getting sandwiches afterwards.

  15. Is this trip really going to make some huge difference in anything? I think whats strange is the tax payers have to pay for some of the people who make over 100K a year. Most hardworking folks knocking down 30k a year still manage to come up with a few bucks to go an a trip every now and then. Do you realy think they are going over there to sweat it out, working extemely hard? They’ll most likely be sipping wine and then do a quick drive by one of the schools to have a snack in the school lunchroom. C-ville mismanges most of it’s money. I mean look at the transit system and the new station that looks like a fishtank/abandoned horse barn. Hey democracy is by the people and for the people, right? I can imagine what really goes on behind closed doors. What a bunch of smokeblowers. Ooops,, gotta run. I need to go get my free ride on the bus that will drain about 30 gallons a minute with about 3 people on it.

  16. Race baiting is ugly whether done in public or in an email that you think will be private. (Oops.) Anybody know how FOIA works? Won’t they have to tell us if 1. Edwards really pays and 2. who the anonymous donor is? (Same guy/gal who want to build the high VOC turf fields all over town?)

    Interesting that Charlie got it right: if anyone has to go, it’s Rosa; otherwise you stiff your hosts. Too bad no one listened to him last week, and saved her the headline today.

  17. The discussion between Werdsworth and Cynic is interesting and underlines a shift in how local governments are working. In the pre-internet days local elected officials were mostly only held accountable for decisions at election time and the information available to most citizens consisted of whatever local media chose to cover. Much was forgotten in the interim. The old model limited citizen micromanaging and government accountability. Now citizens are much more involved and elected officials must operate in a much more transparent environment. And citizen bloggers can remind voters of accomplishments and serious mistakes. I think this way is better but that we are still adjusting to the change.

  18. Great email from Charlie Kollmansperger, very disappointing reply from Alvin Edwards.

    I don’t think anyone posting on this site would dispute the value of foreign exchange programs for our students– that’s a straw man argument. But there are other factors at work here:

    -Timing: A trip to Tuscany on the taxpayer’s dime came at a bad time, when expenditures by Council and school board are under particular scrutiny. $18,000 rain barrels, YMCA, the CARS debacle, etc etc. This trip was sort of the final straw in many people’s minds. For something to be the final straw, it really doesn’t matter how much it cost.

    -Personnel: Why were SO many people going? A lame duck councilor, the mayor, and so many from upper level school administration. This was seen as wasteful and selfish, and rightfully so.

    -Transparency: At a time when so many citizens are demanding a greater level of transparency from our elected officials and city staff, this boondoggle failed that test.

    -Explanations: The arrogant and condescending explanations from some of the officials involved only served to amp up the anger level of the citizens. A classic example of what not to do from a PR perspective. Now Edwards’ race-baiting email has dragged the level of responses into the gutter.


  19. Oh, and I’d also like to add: If folks think that certain officials are doing a really poor job representing us here at home, what are the odds that they’d want to pay for them to go on a trip to Italy?

  20. J C Clark, that’s not fair. I imagine the big buses are getting at least 6 miles per gallon. And even the smaller buses are getting just as much, but not much more. :)

  21. My city councilors and school board members are too arrogant and self-important to even be questioned. So, after 15 years of living and sending my kids to city schools, I called a real estate agent this morning. Albemarle County is looking much more welcoming right now………especially the real estate taxes.

  22. quote, Alvin Edwards >> “I am trying to discourage folks from screaming racism…”

    If this is true, why did Alvin Edwards introduce the thoughts of “racism” into the issue at all? He is the only person I have seen mention black, white, green or purple!

  23. I am trying to discourage folks from screaming racism…

    I would like to believe that’s true. I honestly hope it’s true. In context, though, it just sounds too much like “that’s a pretty little girl you have – I’d hate to see anything happen to her”.

    A public statement by Rev. Edwards making clear that race has no part in this issue would go a long way towards making it clear that he really is trying to “discourage folks from screaming racism”.

  24. You’d best not be impugning the actions of Dr. Pastor, or his posse will come slap you upside your virtual, sheet-wearing head.

  25. Sadly, this all could have been such a triumphant moment for our schools. Imagine how differently this trip would have been perceived if the headline two months ago had been: “Superintendent Rosa Atkins leads an entourage of teachers to Italy. Nominate a teacher who you think deserves to join Ms. Atkins on this historic visit.”

    Instead, we got Ms. Atkins and her travel buddy, Ms. Ivory, who went to Italy together last year on vacation and don’t really represent our teachers (as demonstrated by the outcry).

  26. Wow.

    It’s about race, huh?

    Why not attribute the kerfuffle to latent anti-Italian sentiment? Maybe it’s sexism? Or classism — the lower and lower-middle class just can’t relate to a trip to Tuscany? Maybe opponents are generally opposed to romance languages? Or they’re anti-pasta?

    Or…could it be people angry about the appearance that public officials are taking a vacation on the public dime…?

    Nah. That’s just crazy talk. Race it is.

  27. Always leave it to some african american black to throw down the race card. This discussion is about wasting tax payers money not racism.
    The school board and city council all seem to know how easy it is to spend some other poor taxpayers money. Shame on the whole lot.

  28. Always leave it to some african american black to throw down the race card.


    That’s not fair either. “Always”? “Some african american black”?

  29. Alvin Edwards can’t say that sort of stuff unless someone is willing to listen. And that’s the problem: the Board, Rosa, Gertrude, etc. do listen. Just as Dede Smith listened to Rick Turner. Our leaders need some iron in their spine on this issue. Call him out on it every time he does it.

  30. I have two children in the city school system. In the past year, I’ve been hearing from an increasing number of parents who are not pleased with the way things have been going and the things we see coming down the pike. This year, for the first time ever, I’m hearing a lot of talk about families moving their children out of the city schools and either into the county or into private schools. My husband and I are seriously considering moving our children to private schools, even though it will be a huge financial strain.

    We have amazing teachers and some really great schools. Unfortunately, it appears that Central Administration is trying their darnedest to mess things up. Why spend money on what the teachers need in the classrooms? Let’s go to Italy instead. For that matter, why spend money on teachers themselves? Let’s have a top-heavy, highly-paid central office staff and leave the schools short staffed.

  31. I’m curious about the perception that the county schools are doing a better job or are more satisfactory than the city schools. I don’t have an agenda; it’s just that all the school talk that I hear/read seems to be focused on the performance of city schools and the city board and city administrators. Is the county doing a much better job? are there things the county goes that the city could emulate? are the challenges each system faces so different? I’m woefully understocked with knowledge in this area — all I really know is that (a) we like our child’s county elementary, and (b) the county school system is ENORMOUS.

  32. Don’t go, Jennifer B! Hang around and help change the way things are done right now. I am hopeful with the top three vote-getters in the election that we can do that, if parents and teachers stand together and call for an end to business as usual.

    1. A cap of 50 people in Central Office. (Not 70 ) One superintendent, 1 assistant superintendent. Nice people in Central Office, but way too many of them, sorry. (Savings: $2 million–we could opt out of NCLB!)

    It’s budget time just around the corner; let’s do it.

    2. Call for our leaders to be IN the schools, and IN the neighborhoods, and IN the homes of students who are not succeeding. School leaders (some of whom who already do) AND division leaders. We want our leaders to know the names of students, to substitute teach, to eat in the lunchroom, to listen to the school resource officers. Why can’t we demand that? A new culture in CCS!

    3. No more zero-sum game. We have a great division for high achieving kids; now let’s have a great division for the middle and low-achieving kids, too. Everybody, all at once. As Llezelle Dugger said, there’s only one way to close the achievement gap: from the bottom up. (And know that it will take longer with the top quartile continuing to move up.)

    800 teachers in the division, many thousands of parents: why can’t we change things?

  33. Wow, opt out of NCLB!… wouldn’t that be a bold move. One of the primary arguements for having so many folks at Central Office is to have enough adminstrators for the NCLB statistics and paper work, so what a neat way to turn it all on its head.

    Well, the three new board members have certainly spent a good amount of time in the schools talking with anyone who wanted to share a concern- so they certainly should be able to set the tone/lead the way on the IN approach.

    How about hiring some folks for each school that can help relieve our prinicipals (in Buford and CHS) of the enormous amount of time spent on discipline issues, and get our prinicipals back in the classrooms to observe/instruct/mentor our teachers?

  34. Karl and Barracuda,

    That’s what I’m talking about. We have a clear moment right now, in which the ills of our system and its mismanagement have raised their murky brows above the surface. The status quo is not good enough for this great town. Enough parents and teachers have volunteered their stories of woe that we ought to be able to get something going to get this big machine moving in a positive direction. How can we do it, given that many have either chosen anonymity or may prefer to remain anonymous? In my years in the system, I found a lot of complaints but not many willing to complain, generally out of fear.

  35. While our leaders are off to Italy…
    ask your children or a teacher at CHS how freezing cold the school is………..tomorrow I will wear wool and a scarf…
    do we not have the money for heat? complaints go unheard!!

  36. chsteach,

    Why do complaints go unheard? Who have you complained to? If teachers stood up for themselves, would you be amongst the stand-uppers? As I said, a lot of complaining but not many willing to complain. If there were numbers, would you join, as Karl seems to be suggesting, a group that was looking for change? What changes would you like to see?

  37. I’ll start with the two easiest to address:

    1. Respect, concern, and advocation for the achievement, motivation, and well-being of all students. ALL students–low, middle, and high achievers.

    2. Comfortable room temperature and ventilation in all rooms at CHS. Ask any teacher or student in the building about this. We had a 10 million dollar renovation two years ago, and supposedly gained control of this. It didn’t happen. Some rooms range in the 80 degree range, some require jackets. Complaints to administrators in the building are greeted with shrugged shoulders. Work orders are submitted but nothing results.

  38. Cynic,
    You bring up great and very fair questions. I have talked to admin. in my building on numerous occasions and central office staff 4 times about many issues. We seem to just spin our wheels.

    Am I willing to get a group together and go to the school board or the public? Would anybody go with me? Am I making things worse if I do this and don’t follow the hierarchy protocol? Is there retribution for those who don’t follow party line? Will Mr. Edwards dismiss me as a racist? I am not sure of the answer to any of these questions. Will I stay in this job next year? Can’t answer that either.

  39. Where do we begin? I think with parents and teachers talking to each other and committing to the old adage that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Then we reach out to our school leaders. Politely. Let’s assume (at least for now) that there is an information disconnect. Let’s come up with a strategy for these folks to get into the buildings and gain the same information that teachers and students have, and parents hear about. This shouldn’t be hard, with enough support.

  40. I keep hearing a quiet rumour that Rev. Edwards passed the collection plate to pay for the Italy trip on Sunday…is this possible?

  41. It’s none of our business whether or not Rev. Edwards’ congregation is assisting him in paying for that trip. Public money – you bet! But, the question of financial assistance from Mt. Zion is not a matter of public concern. I’d suggest y’all let that one go.

  42. Ladies, gentlemen, and partents of students in the charlottesville public school system: The only thing I ever hear about at budget time is the loud voice of our teachers complaining about how over worked they are and how under paid they are. Every year at budget time its about one thing and one thing only teachers demanding higher salaries. The school budget for this fiscal year is 73% teacher salaries and administrative cost and 27% classroom instruction materials. Everyone associated with the school system needs to be held accountable. More money is not the only solution to the problems facing the city school system, except maybe when you’re taking a vacation to Italy at taxpayer expense in the name of culture and educational enhancement.

  43. I’m hearing something else here, Jogger, that teachers want their voices to be heard on a number of issues. Certainly teachers deserve more money. Anyone who has taught knows that it is much harder than most jobs. Would teachers such as chsteach hang around if he or she was respected and had the sense that things were moving in the right direction? Would you, chsteach?

  44. Yes, I would. Teacher morale would improve substantially if we felt we were listened to, respected, and valued–and if real issues (like temperature control and budget priorities) were addressed efficiently and effectively.

  45. Teacher morale ……….I’ve never seen a more discontented lot in my life…….Listened to..The only thing that ever comes out of a teachers mouth is I want a higher salary, not one thing do I hear about wanting such and such to improve the learning skills of my students… that’s a good one. You earn respect. No one is going to give it to you. Get with the program teachers…real issues (like temperature control and budget priorities) give me a break. If all you have to complain about is the temperature in your classroom then I would say you are well off. As far as budget priorities go..well teachers only know how to ask for more money for ever higher salaries….
    Many teachers in the Charlottesville system, not all, but a lot are in too deep and are merely staying for the benefits and excellent retirement benefits….In the meantime the students suffer..

  46. jogger,
    Some of what you say is true…… Many teachers are not there for the benefit of the kids….and believe me, these people affect us all…they don’t know how to teach content, are burned out and just aren’t quality……we have way too much of that, I agree. I wish Central Office was working on every kid having a great teacher…..not some who are just waiting to retire. It’s hard to get the best and brightest when the pay is so low. Some teachers teach because they love the kids and want to inspire and encourage……..these people need tons of support because they really do have such a hard job. To inspire a kid who is cold, hungry, been sexually molested or verbally abused, etc. is a challenge, especially a whole room of them…..and yes, some of us have a whole room of that type of kid… If we want the best for our kids, much has to change in our communities and schools.

  47. Jogger is clueless and out of touch.

    If someone really wants to find out where money is being wasted in the schools, they would file a FOIA request for the ledger, not the spin called the budget, at the Central Offices. School Board members may not feel like they have to account to the public for “every nickel” but you might be surprised about a few things.

    Lumped in with “Salaries and Benefits” are expenses like administrative junkets, consultants, pay bonuses and stipends, school board retreats…not bloated teachers’ salaries. Benefits for administrators may be generous, but for teachers in the city, unlike the county, you can’t retire until you get Medicare or die whichever comes first.

    Get your facts straight. Do your homework. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

  48. Afraid,

    I wish jogger were clueless. I think he just has an agenda. I know jogger’s comments to be untrue and he probably does as well. I know these comments are untrue because I have taught in our city’s schools and know for a fact that almost all of the teachers I worked with were highly committed individuals. Even more were highly committed at one point, but have been ground down from the demands of the profession. If you don’t believe me, jogger, try subbing there for a day or two. You wouldn’t make it, my friend. There’s a reason why most teachers get out of the profession after two or three years….it’s an impossible job. Don’t try to reason with people like jogger, chsteach; instead, help us figure out how to make the changes that you know we need to make.

  49. Jogger,

    Please feel free to substitute teach in our system for a day, then write back about how unimportant it is that your students are comfortable. And how unrelated to learning you think it is. And when you are told there is no money for your classroom needs, yet you know that the system is well-funded and there are plenty of administrators pulling big salaries, let us know how satisfied you feel that things are moving in the right direction.

  50. Jogger may right when he says that the financial input of teachers is always about their salaries, if judging the follow-up comments. Teachers have the TACC arm of the Charlottesville Education Association in which to communicate anonymously with administration and to negotiate for them. That organization has been in existence for decades. I have had scores of friends who were or are teachers and I have found that the best talk about how to improve their teaching and their successes; and the worse complain about issues over which they have no control and in which they should not be involved. Question to the teachers on this blog: what do you think about the $103,000 the City gave to the design center to award contestants drawing watercolors of Water Street Development? A wise use of money or something that you could use better? If you feel you could use it better, then maybe you could tell us how.

  51. Cynic,

    That is a rhetorical question, yes?

    I chose teaching because I wanted to make a difference in kids lives. My suggestion about budget priorities was not about salaries (which are unquestionably more reasonable now than they were in my first year of teaching) but about adequate money for schools and classrooms first, money for Central Office staff and their ‘initiatives’ second. IMHO that is why the Italy trip made so many people apoplectic–we have been told no, no, no this year when we ask for funds to replace broken furniture, more books, classroom supplies, yet…and you know the rest. Central Office and school board members need to be in the schools regularly to observe and talk with teachers. That is what I meant by respect, jogger–walk in our shoes, then speak with knowledge about “real” issues.

  52. Other than being paid a little more for a hard job, I don’t think teachers get into education because they are capitalists. If so, they are the worst capitalists imaginable.

    I don’t speak for teachers, but as a teacher I can tell you what I want:

    1. help with student behavior
    2. time to plan and grade papers
    3. support from their administrations
    4. time to make phone calls home
    5. alternative educational opportunities for those students who are not making it in the current system and therefore leave with nothing (except, maybe, membership in a gang or the feeling that they can pretty much behave however the hell they want to)
    6. the schools to get different desks; as with rooms that are too hot, anyone who has sat in these one-piece contraptions knows you can only sit in one for about 15 minutes.
    7. paid time to meet with my peers to discuss what they are doing (this will shock you, jogger, but there is zero time for this sort of thing…because everyone is too busy dealing with behaviors and the vast amount of paperwork).
    8. a school board member to ask me, “How is it going?”
    9. to see a school board member or the superintendent actually in a school during the school day.
    10. parents required to come in to school when Johnny told a teacher to “f…. off….get out of my face.”
    11. the opportunity to meet with parents, the administrators, and the student when behavior has not been stellar.
    12. someone to follow-up when a student skipped my class twice in a week.
    13. transparent finances

    That’s off the top of my head. Teachers, can you add to this?

  53. Anyone who is reading (teachers, especially) who would like to support bringing Cynic’s list to school leaders for answers, drop me a line at I will keep all info confidential. I’d like to know where the community stands on the important issues that Cynic raises. Thanks.

  54. Cynic,
    You DEFINITELY get it!!!! What an accurate list. Number 10 on your list? That is said to me daily by various students………….but parents being required to come to school let alone being called? What a pipe dream!!! School Board members and Central Office staff should be required to sit through a few CHS lunches…Making AYP doesn’t affect many of our hurting kids.
    I vote for Cynic as the new Superintendent!!!!!

    Cville Eye,
    It just seems Charlottesville loves touting what a world class city we are, yet in reality, we are a small town with gang issues, poverty and schools that are in need of many basic services. Our Foreign Language department was floored when they heard about this trip. They have been told no for such basic things……then 5 people are off to Italy? 5 people who don’t work with kids? We are a small hurting town, that has officials that like to work and live big!

  55. Karl,

    I just thought of another one. A couple of years ago, David Saunier spoke in front of the school board about the idea of restorative justice. Restorative justice was never implemented because there was no time and not enough resources. It might have helped. I’d put that on my list.

  56. No one answered my question…was a collection plate passed or not at Mt. Zion? How can we entrust the decisions of our school system with individuals who are not willing to be transparent concerning their own actions.

  57. Kerl,
    If you are so interested in leading this charge for change, why then didn’t YOU run for a Board position?

  58. Three reasons: first, my kids are 2 1/2 and 5 1/2 years away from leaving home. This is precious time. I need to be coaching soccer on Thursdays, etc. Second: I still wonder if I have the right constitution for the Board. I know Kathy Galvin and Charlie Kollmansperger do, that’s why I was so happy to support them. Third, I think it is important for there to be observers of School Board meetings and decisions. Very few of us are in the audience, fewer still who listen and speak. (Have to admit, this being soccer season, I’ve been absent of late.) I really hope the Board will begin to podcast so more people can tune in real time (whether the Board is in town or retreating) or tune in to issues of personal importance. Finally, I’m not leading a charge here. I’ve been reading (and hearing from) teachers who have not been supported. Somebody who can’t get fired needs to step up and deliver the messages they can’t deliver. Happy to share these duties.

    The rigidly top-down management style simply doesn’t work in our schools. That has been a continuing. Effective leaders, whether principals or superintendents or School Board members, bring the stakeholders along with them. They solicit opinions and respond openly to what they hear (which often requires polite disagreement).

    This is one of the more interesting and forward thinking threads on school issues. Let’s keep it going.

  59. No one answered my question…was a collection plate passed or not at Mt. Zion? How can we entrust the decisions of our school system with individuals who are not willing to be transparent concerning their own actions.

    The fact that nobody answered your questions would make that a presumptive “no.” As somebody has already point out, though, who cares? Whether he paid for his trip himself or he took up a collection, does it matter? Rosa Atkins had her trip funded by a single person — if Alvin Edwards had his funded by 100 people, I can’t see how that’s any different.

  60. I’ve been following this conversation with growing interest. I’ve debated saying anything and I’ve debated whether or not I should post anonymously. My feeling is, if you’re anonymous, you’re not someone the schools need to answer to. Also, I have too much invested, with two daughters in the system. They are more important to me than any consequences I might face for speaking out.

    As someone who taught at CHS for the past two years, I would like to add to Cynic’s list, since I think that, while he or she nailed several things, he or she also fell short.

    Karl, if you are really keeping a list, here is what I would like to see:

    1. I would like to see the schools have teacher-voted representatives who go once a month to address the school board and the superintendent with teachers’ concerns. Right now, the bulk of the information the superintendent and the board receive seems to come from central office personnel, who themselves are not in the schools in any meaningful way. If the school board and the superintendent had their fingers on the pulse, they would not have been so shocked that teachers responded negatively to the Italy trip. Individuals do go and talk to the superintendent, as I did myself. Sadly, individuals are more easily divided and conquered.
    2. I would like to see our school system put more money and resources into elementary literacy. I taught in elementary schools for eight years. After two years teaching English at CHS, I am convinced that the literacy gains we can make at the high school level are somewhat limited, especially with reluctant learners. We need to seriously invest at the elementary level and get rid of some central office personel.
    3. I would like to see smaller class sizes. Last year at CHS, I had twenty-seven students packed into a tiny room. Unlike chsteach’s cold room, my room was hot. A small, hot room impacts learning and, ultimately, the achievement gap.
    4. I would like to see our superintendent invite all the people who have left our schools to come to the table to have a chat. Why did these people leave? What would it take to get them back?

    Karl, I will gladly join in any sort of endeavor. I would love to see other teachers rid themselves of the cloak of secrecy and become part of a movement to change the way we run our schools.

  61. ???
    Apparently no one here knows any more than you about what goes on in Mt. Zion . Perhaps you ought to visit that church tomorrow morning and find out .
    Your list is an interesting hodge-podge of “challenges.”
    PROFESSIONAL GROWTH (#1,7, 10 and partly 5): I heard Mrs. Ivory say that , for the first time in a number of years, several hundred thousand is in the budget this year and every year out for professional growth. Teachers need to say clearly that they wish some of this training to be in the area of effective classroom management techniques. The system has provided those classes before and they were set up so that the teachers could get continuing education units. In the past, professional growth activities were tailored to individual school’s needs. This challenge can become an opportunity. It also sounds as if teachers could use training in effective time mangaement practices (#2, 4, 7). These classes have been provided before, also. I included #5 because most teachers could also benefit from training in teaching emotionally disturbed (ED) students. This too has been provided in the past.
    DISCIPLINE: (#3, 5, 10, 11, 12): The school board spends most its time in public discussing the student code of conduct> The policies appear to be there. Is it that they are not being carried out at building level? This is important because it speaks directly to the effectiveness of the principal and his staff, and indirectly of that of the school board.
    PROFESSIONALISM: (#3,6 8,9 ) Each month the administrative staff submits attendance, discipline, accidents, maintenance and equipment update reports to Central Office. Tours by Central Office staff will not inform them of anything new, and trust me, teachers never want them walking around while they’re teaching.. During the budget process, is your staff requesting more desks or more administrative help and software (recently) or more athletic equipment? The Central Office staff meets with school principals every year to gather their interpretation of individual school needs. This is the usual protocol of professional chain of command. No one is going to ask you anything behind your principal’s (your evaluator’s) back and shouldn’t want to be into that position. This is why you have the CEA which weighs in every year about teachers’ salary packages and budget priorities. This is usually where “transparency” comes in. They often know the budget line items better than individual school board members do. They actually study it. Doctors, lawyers, architects and others belong to their professional organizations because they consider themselves professionals. You teachers should join yours. How does this relate to #8,9. When you approach your problems from a professional standpoint, you are less apt to want a pat on the head from your “superiors.” Anybody can write up lists of complaints on any job. True professionals go about solving their problems in a manner which reflects positively upon them, their profession, their employers and their community.

  62. Cville Eye,

    If nobody every complained constructively, we would still have slavery, a six day work week, and child labor. Of course, our forbears and their children could simply have shut up and found ways to work more efficiently within the system.

  63. Cynic:
    I hope you don’t think I’m beating up on you. My message were to all of the tachers who feel they have unaddressed problems in their work place. However, your use of the term “constructive criticism:”
    Destructive criticism: Your hair is drab brown.
    Constructive criticism: You would look great as a platinum blonde for the holidays!
    In order words, “constructive” implies a possible solution. I read your complaints as dead end complaints. They’re not going away. And, of course, if you are going to work for the system as a professional, you should try working withing the system (although so much of Charlottesville Public Schools has had the system taken out of it during the past couple of decades or so, especially with “no job descriptions” Simons (sp?). Your clients have come to the system for its services and they expect for you to work within the system to provide them. If you are looking for guerilla warfare, then expect a check from the public. Everything I indicated was to say that there are avenues in place already to address your concerns. Why try to frustrate yourself in trying to create others? Talk to your school’s TACC representative about what is already being done by your school’s representative to Central Office. It may mean that you need to have that position.

  64. I don’t think you’re beating up on me, Cville Eye. I think you’re an apologist who, with your smarts, is really part of the problem. If you used your powers for good, whoooaaaa.

  65. I am part of the problem? Is this some warmed-over sixties rhetoric used by those now-old people suffering from delusions of revolution? I’m not in your classroom or in your school for that matter. Do you feel you are one of the most outstanding teachers in your school? Would you, yourself, really think you would enjoy being in your class? Do you really think your clients actually benefit from your services? If you were asked in an interview what were your greatest accomplishments as a teacher, what could you say? I would certainly be interested in knowing the answers. I’m sure I won’t though.

  66. Here’s why you’re part of the problem, C-ville Eye. Throughout the entirely of this discussion, including previous threads, a number of teachers have suggested that they believe the system is not working. For example, the librarian at Buford was told, “no more books,” only to then learn that there is ample money for Gertrude Ivory to go on the trip. Charlie Kollmansperger (sp), clearly a decent person, writes to say he’s heard from lots of disgruntled teachers. chsteach says “I’ve talked to admin many time to no avail.” In other words, lots of people in the system are telling you, C-ville Eye, that the system is broken. You hear all this and you respond back with, “work within the system.” How can you be so smart, C-ville Eye, but not get this? You can’t work within a broken system. Teachers complain, and then they move on. If we don’t want to lose good teachers and good families, something Anthony referred to, we should work to fix the system. I’m not willing to put my name out there, C-ville Eye. I did, however, just look through my kid’s yearbook to see who Anthony Smith is. He was teacher of the year last year at CHS. And he left, apparently. Why don’t you address him with your list of questions.

  67. Cville Eye: I wish we knew who you were, because you sound like an insider, and in a conversation like this one, it would be helpful to know whereof you speak. Three points in response: the issue here isn’t teachers (or parents) trying to run the system. It’s that the city is a small division that doesn’t listen down the chain of command. (I don’t hear county teachers jumping forward on any of these conversation; I just see city teachers fleeing to the county.) 1. Professionalism is needed. Second point, in a rigidly top down system, Central Office tends to get the feedback it wants. And when it gets feedback it doesn’t want, it simply ignores it. (In the business world, companies that behave this way go under.) One example (my point #3) is the area of discipline: I served on a dicipline task force. We met six or eight times in the winter and spring of 2006. We heard from teachers, students, administrators, community members, SROs–and some of them served on the task force. We made a number of recommendations. One that I recall was the need for a real Alternative School for kids with behavioral issues. Hasn’t happened. We need alternative programs (night school, expand the Murray model, etc.) for kids who can’t or aren’t making it in the traditional classroom. (eg. the Charter school) Hasn’t happened. (Though I hear Albemarle County is signing up the Charter school.) In the end, I can’t see that this task force’s report made a whit of difference. You may point to the decline in referrals and suspensions, and declare that we are making great strides, but I would submit that in our rigidly top down system, the word came down from above that there were to be fewer referrals and suspensions made. And so there were. That’s not solving the dicipline problem; that’s just tacking up the “Mission Accomplished” banner while the war still rages. (Which just makes the problem worse and drives good people out of the system, which makes the problem even worse.)

    I’m with you re: the teachers speaking up. They DO need to voice concerns in a constructive way (as doctors and nurses do to solve the health care crisis). I’ve never see the CEA really fulfill this role, beyond taking surveys (which can be very helpful).

    The very biggest problem, as I see it, lie in the the numbers: when there are 70 people in Central Office (Harrisonburg, a division with 10% more students–~4400 to our ~4000, has 44), not only do they eat up a huge amount of money, they create work, meddle, etc. in the lives of building admins and teachers. If teachers were telling me that the efforts of Central Office were really helpful to them, I wouldn’t be writing. But to a person (I’ve probably talked to fifty or a hundred over the years) they say the opposite.

  68. I think Cville Eye is either in Central Office or on the School Board.
    He sounds just like one of these people that want to talk around the issues to avoid them and blame teachers for daring to address real problems with real kids.

  69. Thanks, Cynic, for unleashing C-ville Eye on me. C-ville Eye seems a bit rabid.

    To clarify, I was “student voted” teacher of the year. I don’t think that means all that much.

    Also, C-ville Eye, what does it matter whether Cynic is the best teacher or the worst teacher? A good teacher means the observations are good and a bad teacher means the observations are bad? This is faulty logic. Why can’t the ideas stand alone?

  70. Returning to the initial thrust of measuring the worthiness of the trip to Italy, I have been hoping, in this day of international dialogue, via the internet, to see a posting from one of the Italian principals, as to their opinion of the exchange. That`s a Hemingway style sentence, but I believe, coherent.

    Perhaps, with the magic of Waldo, one could be reached and solicited for a comment.

  71. I object, OutTheAdmin. Please do not out anyone. We are having a real conversation here with the understanding that our professional lives will not be compromised by the opinions we post. This is a small town in the south, not a northern union state. Please respect our right to remain anonymous here. Waldo, do you concur?

  72. Does Central Office know about the lock down earlier this school year – perhaps a better question is what do parents know about the schools – how would parents react if they knew about the number of assaults on teachers and admin last year.
    My understanding is that school board candidates were discouraged vists in the schools before the election and denied data as requested from the Central Office. Open up the schools to the public (“public schools”) and let them decide what is going on. Don’t hide behind student confidentialy and safety. Surverys don’t work because teachers are afraid and the results often are spun.

  73. All, I will respond but right now I’m working on trying to get my system to detect and recognize my expansion slots (COM2, COM3, etc.) but I don’t want you to continue to think of where I’m employed (I’m retired) as two writers on a different thread decided I was employed by Mr. Garrett in the clerk’s office ( Waldo may remember) because of my opinions. I am just a resident who has tried to keep an “eye” on Charlottesville’s government for a number of years. Enjoyed reading your responses, though.

  74. CvilleEeye may be retired but you are not “just a resident.” You are clearly “an “insider” defending an administration under fire. You are making excuses for the lack of leadership in the schools, and believing the lies in the budget. Your attacks on teachers professionalism mirror remarks made by central office and school administration, a curious coincidence no doubt. How do you think teachers can “work within” a system that spends so much of its time finger pointing and making excuses?

  75. To get us back on topic…has anyone received a postcard yet? I hope they haven’t fogotten the folks back home.

  76. Efforts to “out” people here have just about always gone badly, most because the guesses are staggeringly inaccurate. But I do have a couple of thoughts on it.

    First, I’m not broadly fond of the frequency with which people comment here under pseudonyms. I have a particular respect for the opinions of those who post under their full, real names. Even when I disagree with those folks, I just have to appreciate that they have the nerve to put the weight of their identity behind their stated viewpoint.

    Second, I entirely recognize and fully appreciate that some people comment here under pseudonyms because their employment would make it difficult or impossible for them to comment under their real name. On balance, I think that this is certainly for the better. I’ve seen vanishingly few instances here of people in positions of power posting pseudonymously for anything less than (what they see as) the public good.

    Third, I cannot help but notice that those who try to “out” pseudonymous commenters are nearly always commenting under a pseudonym themselves. They would do well to remember that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Finally, I reminder readers that it is frequently obvious to me who is behind the pseudonym, whether because I recognize the IP address or the e-mail address. As a matter of habit, I hold this information in confidence, and I can’t summon to mind a single time when I have betrayed that confidence. But I am under no legal obligation to do so, and I’m presumably only one mental breakdown away from outing everybody. ;)

    I discourage the outing of contributors, but I also recognize that it’s not possible for me to stop it. So I’ll simply remind those who attempt to do so that you, too, can be outed; remember that when you’re trying to out somebody else.

  77. Waldo,

    I’m not trying to out anyone, but this morning at church, as I prayed for the soul of C-ville Eye, I realized that I have never seen C-ville Eye and Dick Cheney post at the same time.

  78. Waldo,

    First off, thank you for guarding everyone’s privacy.

    Second, isn’t it possible, given the “change” button I see, to come and go as multiple people on this blog? OutTheAdmin could really be C-ville Eye trying to put people on the wrong track, right? In fact, I could be C-ville Eye and Cynic, if I had a split personality (C-ville Eye being the evil, sinister side of the personality, of course, and Cynic being the “let’s stick it to C-ville Eye” side of the personality). I see this as all well and good, except when I consider that someone could log on as “Cynic” and start spouting off about how great the schools are. Are you able protect us against this sort of predicament?

  79. Second, isn’t it possible, given the “change” button I see, to come and go as multiple people on this blog?

    It is entirely possible, and there’s no practical technological measure available to prevent that. But, since I see commenters’ IP addresses, I can say with a strong level of confidence that there have been few instances of people posting under multiple usernames over the 6.5 years that the site has existed. I’ve seen people doing that only a few times, and I’ve generally called them out on it.

  80. Frankly, I prefer that people do not speak using their names? Why? Because I would rather concentrate on the words that they are saying and not have them over-shadowed by the mylths, perceptions and stereotypes I have concerning that person. If Cynic is the teacher two down from me, I wouldn’t bother to read anything he has to has because I don’t listen to anything my obnoxious neighbor has to say. Another fairly blogger that uses his name thinks of himself as some kind of liberal activist, which he isn’t liberal at all, and I don’t pay attention to what he has to say. It also can work the other way. Ms. Jacquith made a one-sentence comment about an incident with the police. Because I have heard her fairly lengthy commentaries on NPR I probaby interpreted her words differently from which she intended. It seems this conversation has sunk to the basest of levels, a discussion about me and not my words. Personally, I find it highly insulting to be called Dick Cheney, and, if you have no more for me than that, then I don’t need to obviously waste my time talking to you any further.

  81. CVILLE EYE: I don`t think a discussion about you is “base”. I will say, it is, as you have done, easy to form a “minds eye” opinion of the posters, based upon their previous posts, quite as easily as if they were identified by name.

    I enjoy your posts, although not always in agreement, as I enjoy all the posts, not always because of the content, per se, but for the diversity of the opinions. Some posters, it seems,comment assuming an air of authority that doesn`t exist. I usually attribute this to passion about the subject matter.

    I do think some of the dialogue on this blog, does harm, as in Marc Antony`s famous speech, by ridiculing a logical position into ineffectiveness, rather than directly debatinbg the issues.

  82. I find it interesting to see the county schools regarded as some kind of nirvana compared to Charlottesville. I realize that ACPS has a much larger percentage of well off children but still there are several schools struggling to serve poorer children.
    Also, I think that for some reason people pick up more on things like the Italy trip in Cville, not necessarily that AC guards taxpayer monies more. At times, I think that the ACPS makes controversial decisions, like the major CIP revision during the Grifeths scandal, when everyone is focused on Charlottesville. Now both systems should be carefully watched in my opinion but it is worth remembering that ACPS serves many more students.

  83. It seems like this blog is done.

    I obviously have much to learn about blogging. First I insulted Werdsworth (but I did apologize for using the term) and have now mortally offended C-ville Eye (sorry, C-ville Eye). I promise to be a better blogger in the future.

    One rule I wasn’t sure about was whether or not it is OK to address “All.” I gather this is OK, though, since C-ville Eye did it.

    So here goes:

    All, if anyone is still reading this, please know that our schools really are a mess, regardless of what C-ville Eye would have you believe about teacher incompetence and the inability of teachers to work within a functioning system. The system is anything but. Recently, I have heard (maybe C-ville Eye can verify) that more than half of new teachers leave CHS after only working there one or two years. I don’t want to beat up on CHS, because I know the administrators there have their hands full with behavior issues. Our problems are systemic, but they can be fixed. Like any good improvement plan, we must begin by agreeing that there is a problem. The only way to get this agreement is if the superintendent, central office, and the school board also agree there is a problem. Up till now, this hasn’t happened. (Please note that C-ville Eye doesn’t need to agree).

    If you are concerned about our schools, please call the superintendent to ask her about students physically contacting teachers at Buford, if we are really discouraging (or losing) referrals based on race, who the anonymous donor was, whether or not we are really losing good teachers at CHS. If you don’t do it, who will?

  84. I really have to disagree with Cynic. I don’t think the schools are mess. I have three kids in the school system and I have been very happy with their education. Do I think everything is perfect? No. do I think there could and should be improvements? Yes. But I believe any change is going to come from work by everyone, most importantly all parents who have children in the system. Every school has the same people who help when help is needed. Not much new blood steps up to the plate when asked, or even bothers to ask is there anyway they can help. The best advice I got was when my oldest was in first grade and I went to the principal to speak with him about something we were unhappy with. He told me “the only person who cares about your child as much as you is you”. To quote someone much smarter than me, be the change you want.

  85. Doughhead’s post is a perfect example of why the City School’s are a mess and haven’t been fixed yet……………as long as MY kids are ok, everything is ok..
    For a huge number of kids, things are not ok… and cute sayings about “be” the change don’t help. Many teachers are trying to change things, but as Bill Cosby keeps trying to say, Come on People!!!! We have to put the dirt on the table and admit we have a problem. Today at CHS several students and a PARENT were arrested for fighting before school started!!! It is insanity! Let’s admit it!

  86. “Today at CHS several students and a PARENT were arrested for fighting before school started!!! It is insanity! Let’s admit it!”

    Well Dirtmagnet that is not what I mean, though I’m sure that is the simple answer . But your quote shows me that the problem is not a school problem, but a greater city problem. And the sooner we stop asking the schools to fix all of the cities problems, and hold our City Council accountable for these problems, the sooner our kids and teachers will be able to get on with the job of learning. Nothing cute about it. And a “state of the art YMCA” is not the answer to these social problems either.

  87. doughhead,

    I don’t disagree with you on that. Actually I agree with all you just said, but how do you hold City Council accountable for these problems?
    I’m not sure you can when only around 20% of the city votes in a city council and school board election. They seem pretty free to do what they want….in our “World Class City”

  88. For what it’s worth, I know of no one in the business of public education that would deny there are problems. They live and work in the face of local problems, which inevitably show up in children’s lives.

    In this highly acclaimed city, the problems and the pinnacles live very close to one another. As mentioned waaaay back, I believe it is a matter of scope. It’s easier to blame schools than to take on Charlottesville’s increasing crime rate, high poverty level, and high number of children who need extra support that ranges from hugs to tutoring to clothing to foster parents. The schools are responsible for these children in a way that very few other institutions are, but that doesn’t lay the whole solution on their doorstep.

    So why all the anger and distrust around the schools? There has been evidence of progress academically. The job isn’t over but why not cut “the system” some slack and get busy with working together–not against but WITH the schools? Surely someone that works in the school system knows what they are doing and has the capacity for sound decisions and right action.

  89. Because, Werd, the schools are currently mismanaged and we are losing many, many good teachers due to this mismanagement. We have an abnormally large central office that is not responsive to the needs and concerns of teachers. Our schools, and therefore our teachers, are on the front line of the city’s problems. If our educational leaders don’t listen to teachers, they cannot make the right decisions (e.g., “My students don’t have pencils and I’m buying them out of pocket.” “I’m off to Italy.”).

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