Not that I consider myself Lord Voldemort in any way, but borrowing the sentiment from the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, at least the quote, “I confess myself disappointed.”

 

Our new superintendent has been on the job for a month now. Today she appeared on our local NPR radio station and their local program that runs from 9 AM to 10 AM each morning.

She continued her theme of Team Duval, how she needs everyone to be on the team as everyone in town has gotten behind the NFL franchise, and continued to appeal for community support even as she asserted that everyone should remember there is only one head coach.

Once again she has failed to recognize the people who make schools work: the teachers, support staff, and administrators who daily make learning happen.

Oh, she mentioned that she had seen some great things happening, but it’s summer. Exactly where did she go? No mention. Most schools are in hiatus. It’s as if she views schools as running machines, but cannot see the individual parts and how important each part is. Even Vitti saw the individual when he confessed that he had viewed teachers as replaceable cogs.

Coach, what’s going on? You’re standing on an empty field appealing to the crowd to suit up and get in the game. Meanwhile, your professional players sit in the locker room wondering when you will call them forth and acknowledge their efforts, their importance, their essentialness to produce a winning season.

If you want to win the Super Bowl, it is the players, not the crowd, not the community support that brings the Lombardi Trophy to town. The crowd and community are important to the success of the team, but the players are the ones who actually play the game, grind out the hard plays, and put the scores on the board.

I confess myself disappointed.

During my July visit to my parents, they introduced me to the show ‘Undercover Boss,’ in which a company’s CEO disguises him/herself and spends a week pretending to be a new hire in various workplaces to learn what’s really going on and have candid conversations with the line employees and first rank of management.

The week is a surprise to the CEOs, who had no idea what was really taking place in their companies. In one show, a fast-food boss found out that one of his restaurants had many problems, including potholes in the parking lot, and that ‘corporate’ wasn’t listening when the employees reported that they needed repairs. He was shocked to find that one of his joints was opening steel cans of peppers with knives because the can openers were broken and corporate wouldn’t approve a replacement purchase.

I wonder what would happen if superintendents disguised themselves and went undercover in their schools for a week. They would find out a boatload of disturbing information, that is true. Would they care?

With the Undercover Bosses, they took immediate action to correct the problems before meeting with the employees they met to reward them for the valuable help they gave the company by being frank and also showing how much they cared about the success of the business.

I wonder if Undercover Superintendents would do the same. Do they want to know the people who work in the schools, the people who make the system work every day despite the challenges and lack of resources, and do they want to find ways to reward them?

One month in, we haven’t seen that in Duval. I confess myself disappointed.

*It would be easy to depict this essay as a criticism of the new superintendent. It is not that. It is far too early to decide upon whether the Board made a good hire. Rather, I am confessing my disappointment to date as I explore my feelings as to why I feel no excitement about what will come next. I am eager, as always, to return for a new year and work with the incoming freshmen. But I feel a disconnect with district leadership. Hopefully, by the time Opening Day is over, I will be proven wrong. Rarely have I wanted to be wrong as much as I do now.

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