And the survey says.....er....nothing. There are still no surveys in QCSD.
What happened to the optimism of late summer?
When we last heard from the school directors about the on-line surveys to be taken of students, teachers, alumni, and the community, they announced a series of at least 14 such information-gathering sessions, which were to begin in September. This was supposed to be an opportunity for everyone to speak his/her mind openly, to offer opinions and insight without fear of reprisals.
The administration would no longer be able to deny the depth of community anger about our horrendous test scores, or the unpopularity of our teach-to-the test curriculum that has foolishly eliminated, or downplayed, spelling, basic math, reading, and writing. And those comments were going to be made public, without administration censorship or redactions. Basically, it would be a referendum on the direction of our education under Superintendent Lisa Andrejko. The administration's worst nightmare.
It is now the end of November, and there is nary a questionnaire to be seen. That chuckling you hear is coming from 100 Commerce Drive.
Our directors were asked to submit their questions. A professional education polling company was to be hired. Safeguards were supposedly being put in place to prevent multiple responses from a single source - and also to prevent anyone from improperly influencing the results. Yet two months after the process was supposed to begin, and almost a full year after the newly-elected board proposed the idea, we are nowhere.
Should we be surprised? Not really. Andrejko is adamantly opposed to anything that allows general community input into the workings of her kingdom, especially with the transparency that the board promised. And when Andrejko is involved, the only surprise is when she doesn't get her way, regardless of the legality. Remember the infamous red/yellow/green lists of program cuts that she successfully used to scare the directors and community into accepting unnecessary tax increases? Or when she talked the board into illegally allowing her to approve all school contracts up to $25,000, by herself, in private? Or when she convinced the directors to illegally renew her own contract in a secret executive session, and never announced it publicly?
Many of the board members who participated in those improprieties have been voted off the island. But some are still with us, and still taking their cues from Andrejko. They have been fighting the idea of surveys since it was proposed as one of the first orders of business last year.
QCSD still operates under the archaic system of allowing prior directors - even those booted by the voters - to majorly influence who will be the officers for the next year. No surprise there either. So pro-Andrejko ex-directors Kathy Mosley, Linda Martin, Nancy Tirjan, and Pat McCandless made sure that her agenda would continue for at least one more year by naming the only two remaining pro-administration directors, Bob Smith and Kelly Van Valkenburgh, to be president, and vice-president, respectively.
Smith, in turn, has used his bully pulpit to do whatever he could to block the surveys. He originally tried to unilaterally overturn the board's 7-2 vote (you can guess who the two opposed were), declaring that the board should simply ignore their own mandate. After being rebuffed, he has turned a blind eye, and deaf ear, to the footdragging of his buddy, Curriculum/Education Committee chairperson Anna Cattie, which has prevented the surveys from being completed, despite repeated complaints from the other directors.
And it is no surprise that VV is equally disinterested in following through on the board's decision. She was one of the targets of the public's anger in the memorable 2006 surveys, which were so critical of the directors and administration that the results were kept from the community for 16 months.
The 2012 general election is now history (even if our students will never study it under the Standard Based Grading curriculum). The next opportunity our community will have to choose our leadership will be less than six months from now, the 2013 municipal primaries. Both Smith and VV will be up for re-election, and, based on QCSD's widespread failures under their stewardship, are in great danger of losing their seats, following the departure of buddies Mosley, Martin, Tirjan, and McCandless. Two more devotees of Andrejko's see no problems, hear no problems, speak no problems agenda.
So if you are mad as hell about QCSD's terrible educational performance, and the total arrogance Smith and Van Valkenburgh have shown this community in obstructing our voices, mark May 17, 2013 on your calendars.
Even Andrejko, Smith and VV can't prevent the community from speaking out then.