Wednesday, September 28, 2016

If you want to even start understanding how the mayor, the St. Louis elite - including the cabal of Archibald and company – and Missouri politicians have run SLPS further into the ground...

More background on the mayor's appointment to the Special Administrative Board (SAB), via Susan Turk.  For yesterday's news, and more insights, see yesterday's post.

St. Louis Schools Watch
The Hypocrisy Continues
By Susan Turk
St. Louis—September 28, 2016--As expected, Mayor Slay made his appointment to replace Melanie Adams on the SAB just before yesterday’s meeting. And the nominee is none other than former elected Board Of Education Member and Board President Darnetta Clinkscale.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Ms. Clinkscale was one of the four members of the slate that Mayor Slay and Civic Progress supported in 2003 to reform the SLPS. And reform they did. 
When the Post-Dispatch lists reasons for the 2007 state takeover of the SLPS, the Clinkscale led board was responsible for them; revolving door superintendents and academic decline for instance.
During the 2003 school board election campaign one of the mayor’s two education liaisons, Rev. Earl Nance, Jr. quietly informed Supt. Cleveland Hammonds that he would be fired by the board once they won election. Dr. Hammonds resigned a month after the 2003 school board election to avoid being fired by them. They replaced Dr. Hammonds with turn around expert Bill Roberti, who was not qualified to serve as superintendent and whom they had to get a waiver from DESE, which DESE cooperatively granted, to legally install him. Roberti was given a one year contract.  

During the 2003-2004 school year they went about pretending to perform a national search for a permanent superintendent. It was an utter failure and waste of valuable time. They faked a search because they had a candidate in mind for the job. They wanted to hire Dr. Rudy Crew and they erroneously believed he would take the job. So they pretended to do a search and did not develop a serious list of alternative candidates if he should not take the job offer. Their sham search netted fewer than 10 applicants. Dr. Crew declined and took over the Miami public schools instead.  
Then they were forced to do a serious national search. So when Roberti’s contract ended in June, 2004 they instated an in-house interim, Floyd Crews. Dr. Crews left after 4 and a half months because the board was micromanaging and would not allow him to make key decisions. He believed in individualized instruction. 

Soon after putting him in place as superintendent, they also hired Dr. Lynn Spampinato as chief academic officer. She favored a regimented one size fits all approach to curriculum. Spampinato over ruled a district committee comprised of parents, administrators and teachers which had been convened to review reading curricula and implemented a controversial curriculum called Open Court. She required that it be used in all elementary schools, even magnet schools where it conflicted with magnet curriculum, and that every child be engaged in reading everyday at the same time for the same amount of time throughout the district. Regardless of whether students absorbed the material, teachers were not allowed to change the pace of the curriculum. MAP language arts scores plummeted. But long before that year’s tests were even given, Dr. Crews lost the will to continue in the job.  
Clinkscale and company (Bob Archibald, Ron Jackson and Vince Schoemehl) replaced Dr. Crews with another in-house interim, Dr. Pamela Randall Hughes. During her 5 1/2 months they undertook a serious national search and hired Dr. Creg Williams who took over in May 2005. Dr. Williams had never served as a superintendent before and was overwhelmed by the job. He resigned in July 2006 and was replaced by Dr. Diana Bourisaw.
Many of the Clinkscale led board’s initiatives involved outsourcing services. This did not always save the SLPS money. The SAB actually reversed many of the policies and practices implemented by Clinkscale’s board. Richard Gaines has been quite vocal about the practicality of returning services in house.
That Mayor Slay would appoint Darnetta Clinkscale to the SAB is a display of the poorest of judgment on his part. But where the SLPS is concerned, the mayor has never displayed good judgment.
This appointment is perhaps the single best argument for ending the SAB’s tenure running the SLPS. DESE is holding area meetings this month to gather information for policy recommendations for the coming year. The St. Louis area meeting is tonight, September 28, in the Pattonville H.S. cafeteria at 6 p.m., 2497 Creve Coeur Mill Road, Maryland Heights, MO 63043. If you cannot make the meeting, please contact DESE Commissioner Margie Vandeven or state board of education members. They must be reminded that Darnetta Clinkscale is responsible for the failures that were attributed to the elected board which motivated the state board to replace the elected board with the SAB in the first place. Mayor Slay may cynically believe no one will remember or be concerned. Such recent history should not be swept under anyone’s rug.