Opinion Your Views — 22 October 2013
Morton Sherman deserves our praise for his accomplishments

To the editor:

As former and current PTA presidents in Alexandria, we would like to recognize and thank former Superintendent Morton Sherman for his five years of dedicated service to our school system.

Throughout his tenure, Sherman was a passionate and tireless advocate for our children. On a personal level, he maintained an admirable open-door policy for us and was always willing to listen to our concerns, show up at our meetings and respond to our emails — sometimes at 3 a.m.

None of us agreed with every one of his decisions; many of us have had lively conversations with him. But we are grateful for his many positive contributions. We hope that his most successful reforms will be maintained under new leadership.

In the face of a rapidly expanding student population, Sherman was staunchly committed to maintaining small class sizes, and he managed to do this while reducing the per pupil expenditure.

During his tenure — and following his hiring of principal Suzanne Maxey — T.C. Williams showed impressive progress. Improvements included increased graduation rates; higher participation rates and exam scores in AP classes; implementation of programs like AVID, which is targeted toward first-generation college-bound students; and the creation of the satellite campus.

Sherman’s commitment to improving academic achievement throughout the student population — including black, Hispanic and special education students — was steadfast. His establishment of the “schools within a school” model for the middle schools, as well as greatly expanding the pool of middle school and high school counselors, reassured parents that our kids would not get lost in the crowd.

Finally, the creation of the K-12 curriculum and introduction of a STEM academy within Minnie Howard will help equip our students with critical-thinking skills essential for future success.

Despite the progress that has been made in the past five years, our school district faces many challenges. There are students throughout the city that are not yet meeting grade-level objectives, and we need to continue building on the progress at Jefferson-Houston, moving toward retaining accreditation.

As we embark upon a new school year and a superintendent search, Alexandria’s PTA leaders remain committed to working with the school board, district staff and community on our shared mission: ensuring every student achieves his or her full potential.

- Past and present PTA leaders:

Kay Arndorfer

Mia Jones

Priscilla Plishker

Patty Chamberlain

Laurie Kahl

Marie Randall

Beth Coast

Susan Keightley

Caitlin Rockwell

Daria Dillard

Linda Kelly

Jennifer Roda

Kelly Dresen

PJ Lepp

Beth Simmons

Shanelle Gayden

Judy Lyons

Becky Sullivan

Ramee Gentry

Nicole Maaia

Carey Sullivan

Mary Giordano

Cindy Martinez

Annie Vroom

Marianne Hetzer

Karen McManis

Jerica Webber

Keith Jabati

Laura Miles

Rosie Wiedemer

Lisa Jacobs

Ann O’Hanlon

Melynda Wilcox

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. When will these folks cough up the Kool-Aid and stop it already. The Superintendent these people praise was not the one who was running the show for the past five years in ACPS.

    The signers of this letter would have us believe that praise should rain down on the same superintendent who jumped ship a week before the start of this school year, taking almost $300,000 with him on the way out the door. The same superintendent who presided over the CIP mismanagement fiasco to the tune of a few million dollars in taxpayer funds should receive our praise. The same superintendent who sat for five years and allowed Jefferson Houston to slide further into the abyss should get a pat on the back. The same superintendent who shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to consultants, including many deals to some consultants with personal ties to Mr. Sherman should get a “job well done” acknowledgment. The same superintendent who established a questionable education foundation in the name of our students should be congratulated.

    Rubbish.

    Here we are after five years of Sherman’s march to the Potomac and what does ACPS have to show for it? Five schools which are designated “accredited with warning,” one school which is not accredited (therefor we can not retain what we do not have) and is in line for state takeover, a curriculum which does not align with the textbooks bought by the district to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, a redesign of the middle schools which has failed to produce any long-term meaningful results (four of the five schools identified as accredited with warning are four of our middle schools), questionable budgeting practices which are being examined by the city, a new grading system which was not piloted and is confusing to parents, teachers, and students, and a football field sized list of half-ass programs implemented throughout the district.

    The signers of this letter should be ashamed that they were and continue to be part of the legacy of Mr. Sherman.

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