Friday, September 15, 2006

"It was not a lack of preparation on the school district's part."

... So said Utica Schools Supt. Skermont in today's OD in reference to the scheduling fiasco at Proctor High that was reported in yesterday's OD.

WOW . . . Since the school district is responsible for properly preparing the student's schedules, how can Skermont claim that "it was not a lack of preparation"? Obviously, a lack of preparation is exactly what it was. Ms. Skermont's remark reeks of denial.

Perhaps Ms. Skermont's administrators were too busy being shuffled around for them to do what had to be done. Rocco Longo, Interim Director of Secondary Education only began working at Proctor a few days before school started. Only a week ago we first heard about Steve Falchi leaving the Academy of Business and Finance to become principal of the Ninth Grade. Just yesterday we first heard about Academies "A,""B,""C," and "D" with one principal serving two academies. It seems like Ms. Skermont's administrators were so busy playing musical chairs that no one noticed the 'little detail' of the students' schedules.

As if the schedule snafu and Ms. Skermont's remark weren't bad enough, Ms. Skermont's minions share her attitude of denial when it comes to the significance of the screw-up:

"Christine Golden, vice president of secondary education for the district and a Proctor global studies teacher, said district staff is doing all it can to correct the computer and schedule problems. "The kids are getting the classes that they need, it's just slow-going," Golden said."

How can Ms. Golden say that when kids are missing core classes?
The school's attitude is that the missed classes are not important.

This theme comes through again in the response one parent, Ms. Richardson, got from Proctor administration when she asked about her daughter's missed math classes:

"Richardson called Proctor to find out how Basia could get caught up, she said. She was told Basia wouldn't be required to make up any assignments that she missed, she said.

Ms. Richardson was not concerned about her daughter having to make up missed assignments; she was concerned about her daughter learning the missed material. Apparently, Proctor administrators are more concerned about bean-counting than learning. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Proctor High is listed as one in the state needing improvement.

Something is seriously wrong at Proctor, has been for some time, and will be for time to come until significant changes are made in school management. The school district can no longer hide behind the cloak of secrecy. Parents, students, and taxpayers deserve answers on how this snafu and the school's general lack of achievement happened. The Board needs to get to the bottom of this publicly.

Some heads need to roll ... Is the Board up to it?

[Update 9/16: Read a good editorial on this in the OD.]

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