Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pinellas County Schools - Epilog

I have watched with interest over the years as the Pinellas County school system wrestled with first one mess and then another. I had some distant contact with Clayton Wilcox, the past Superintendent. I had hoped that bringing in a talented outsider would begin to make some difference in the both substance and the stature of the school system. From the very beginning Wilcox was in a pitched battle with the administration and the teacher's union. Soon, thanks to some clever politicking by teachers and administrators and a gullible School Board, Wilcox was on the defensive having issues with the School Board. One of the big problems was Wilcox liked kids. He had a passion to see that education was provided to everyone in an effective way. He wanted teachers to teach. Heresy.

Clayton, like all of us, had his problems, lots of ego, aggressive and not real patient. As support for Wilcox eroded he decided to move on, motivated I am sure by some well meaning School Board members. The elected brain trust selected Janssen as the new person to head a troubled school district, an easy decision for the pseudo politicians that set on the School Board. No push back from the teachers or the administration. The reason? Janssen was an insider it would be business as usual. A classic case of in breeding. So it has been. The most condemning reference was "she had grown up in the Pinellas County school system". A product of the very culture she would be asked to change. It was like reaching into a boiling pot and trying to find the solution to what's making it boil. A poor choice that has come back to haunt them. The School Board has given Janssen 60 days to clean up her act, a seemingly impossible task. She could do everyone in Pinellas County a favor by simply resigning. Not likely. Janssen was never a class act and nothing has happened to change that.

The current question on the table is will the School Board finally have enough courage to take a stand, fire Janssen and go get, and support, someone who can reform the school system? Based on past history it seems unlikely. In any event we need to look carefully at who runs for School Board in the next election cycle. Let's try voting in some people who are not tied to the school system. Some independent thinkers with some backbone for a change.

Sixty days and Counting…Can Janssen Clean up her act?

The Pinellas County School System has been troubled for years. Maybe they should hang out a sign "Reformers Not Welcome"

I think school systems in general have missed the mission. Today we spend way to much public education money on athletic fields, stadiums, team uniforms, high paid coaches and not enough on teaching students how to read, write and add. The chances of a Pinellas County School student punting, passing, hitting, slam-dunking, swimming, or catching his or her way to success is a real long shot. Don't believe me, check the number of professional athletes in the major leagues and their salaries. Yet we spend a disproportionate amount of money on these programs. A school Board worth its salt should recognize this and do something about it.

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