On August 4th, Peoria Journal Star journalist Phil Luciano wrote an article comparing District 150 and Change150 to a fighting King Kong and Godzilla.
We didn’t respond to the article at the time, but one of our supporters, Pat Miller did by sending Luciano the letter below. It doesn’t look like he’s going to do anything with it, so Pat sent it to us, and now we are sharing it with you.
August 19, 2014
Peoria Journal Star
1 News Plaza
Peoria, IL 61643
Dear Mr. Luciano,
I read with interest your recent column pointing out how very far apart District 150 Administra-tion and Change150 are in their tenets and goals. While I agree with you that the two are on opposite sides of a huge chasm, I don’t agree with some of the points you made in your column. And while I salute your effort to present both sides’ views in a fair and open manner, I can’t condone the complete lack of logic that you allowed to be presented as sensible.
To quote your column:
“Lathan embraces an administration that constantly rotates school principals as a way to avoid long-term complacency and encourage new ideas. She says that’s important in a large, urban district, where slackers can hide with no accountability. That makes sense.”
Seriously? You think that makes sense? To use your sports team analogy in a way that is more analogous to this situation, would you advocate major league teams “constantly” forcing coaches to rotate from team to team “to avoid long-term complacency and encourage new ideas”? Or would you point out the obvious: that such rotation is counterproductive and absurd? That it prevents the coach from devising strategies for his team that go past the current year? That it keeps the coach from ever knowing his players and resources well enough to maximize on their strengths and rehabilitate their weaknesses?
Carrying the team/coach analogy a step further, do you think rotating coaches is the best way to keep “slackers” from “hid(ing) with no accountability”? If a coach is a slacker, does anyone really believe he can hide it? Of course not! It quickly becomes obvious, does it not? A slacker coach is soon confronted by a poor win/loss record, unhappy players, unhappy fans, and unhappy backers.
Likewise, if a principal is a slacker, this fact is never hidden, never obscured from accountability. Every teacher in the building knows it and is unhappy. The students know it. The parents know it. Functioning within the school is negatively affected, and the school’s quantitative measures reflect it for all to see. It is a well-known fact among teachers that the principal sets the tone for the entire school, and a weak principal cannot be compensated for by even the strongest teaching staff. As one teacher put, “a principal who is a towering pillar of Jello wrecks the finest school.” And the wreckage is surely no secret! A slacker principal is incapable of hiding that fact, but it is up to the district’s administration to be sure that there is accountability for it.
So you see, Mr. Luciano: you have allowed Dr. Lathan to create a ridiculous pseudo-rationale for what is clearly just a ploy and a power play on her part. She forces these rotations because she can. She does not see or acknowledge this motive because narcissists never see themselves from the inside as they are clearly seen by everyone else from the outside. It comes as no surprise that she would try to fabricate reasonable-sounding motives for what she does; what is surprising is that you would allow such phoniness to pass for “reason.”
The saddest part of this destructive scenario is that Dr. Lathan is, from her perspective and that of everyone else who is a party to this mess, winning. She is using all the power within her grasp to promote her agenda, and she clearly believes that her ends justify her means. What she is not acknowledging–and you media types are either ignoring or failing to observe–is that in winning she is ultimately losing. She is winning her battles just as surely as she is losing the real war. She can rotate and demote principals; she can transfer talented teachers to buildings where they feel like fish out of water; she can break the hearts of the neediest children; she can cow the school board; and she can replace every member of the administrative staff with people of her choosing on flimsy pretexts. What she cannot do, however, is make anyone glad to be working or learning in District 150. She cannot make families move back into Peoria. She cannot make parents stop homeschooling their children and put them back in public schools. She cannot make people take their children back out of parochial schools where the atmos-phere is less like concentration camps and the joy of learning is still present. And she cannot make scores of fine, highly motivated teachers unretire and come back to PSD150 schools.
As a teacher, I never once applied to teach in PSD150. As a parent, I never once considered buying a home in PSD150. As a parenting workshop leader, I have never once encouraged parents to place their children in PSD150. I will continue to guide parents in making the best choices for their children’s educational futures, and those choices will not include PSD150.
Thank you for reading this and for shining your light on the sorry situation facing Peoria families. I hope you will continue to do so, for the well-being of all concerned.
Pat Miller, Change150 Supporter