Lacking results, schools need new leadership


To the editor:
To those watching the January 13 spectacle of a meeting put on by the Alexandria School Board to Nowhere and the backpedaling superintendent, most shocking was not what was presented by rightfully outraged parents, teachers, and students who had been dismissed from the democratic process. It was what was embarrassingly lacking from the school systems presentation. 
Lacking were any details to the system-altering proposals of extending both the school year (eventually increased to 190 student days) and school day (increased to an additional 45 minutes by the 2012-2013 school year) as laid out by Superintendent Morton Sherman.  
Lacking was a draft calendar of the proposed 2011-2012 school year so parents, students and teachers could plan accordingly. Lacking was a clear timeline outlining the increase in school days and hours from one academic year to the next. (The community was led to believe the plan just called for two additional days and 30 extra minutes to be added.) 
Lacking was an economic impact analysis showing how the increased time proposals would affect local businesses reliant on high school student employees. 
Lacking was a clear plan outlining how the extra time would be utilized within the schools.  
Lacking was a fiscal impact analysis of how the increase in hours and days would affect Alexandrias cash-strapped budget.   
Lacking was information about how the increase in time would impact students intellectual, cognitive, neural, social or moral development. 
Lacking was a legal analysis of the impact to federally mandated IEP services.  
Lacking was information about the impact of the longer school days on Alexandrias special education students (Alexandria has more than 1,660). 
Lacking was a means of assessing the proposals effectiveness. 
Lacking was survey data from parents, students and teachers (the community was led to believe that teachers were in favor of the added time). Lacking was research from a multitude of sources supporting either the lengthening of the school year proposal or the addition of 30 minutes to the school day proposal.
Thursday nights debacle was just another notch in the superintendents belt of poor planning, haphazard implementation, and utter lack of collaboration. For more than two years Alexandria has watched Mr. Sherman backpedal or attempt to explain other hastily laid out initiatives such as T.C. leadership, a new middle school model, the Jefferson-Houston public-private endeavor, math and literacy coaching models and early childhood programs.
Why the rush to make dramatic changes to the school schedule which will impact the amount and quality of family time, local business staffing and revenue, teacher compensation and workload, facility maintenance and operating costs, transportation and scheduling logistics, specialized services to students, extracurricular activities, school athletics, tutoring, sports camps, vacations, childcare and many other important community concerns ignored by the superintendent?  The superintendent claims that the rush is needed because our students are on the path to greatness and that ACPS is the model to the future.
It is time we chose a different path, under the direction of a different leader.