That’s an administrator saying (P2P or principal to principal) when they talk among themselves about the difficulty of terminating someone who shouldn’t be teaching in a classroom. In other words, they tell each other that they should do the work needed to observe and document ineffective teaching, give unsatisfactory ratings, and begin the process of termination because, don’t you know, most principals take the easy out and have the undesired teacher transferred to someone else’s school.
Don’t flame Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT)! Like all teachers, he knows who in the building should find another line of work, but it is a very rare phenomenon.
Every profession has a few weeds to pull out of their garden, but most of the time, it is not the plant’s fault. It is not being given the environmental conditions it needs to flourish. Rather than undertake the work of tending the plant with TLC, it’s easier to pull and replace.
What started this line of reflection is the news that the senior chancellor of Florida’s Department of Education, Jacob Oliva, was tapped by the governor-elect of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders (yes, that Sarah Huckabee, and we are going to miss Aidy Bryant on Saturday nights) to be the new Secretary of Education.
Jacob Oliva, who came to our attention as he played the role of Harley Quinn to Richard Corcoran’s Joker, is being praised as a chief architect of Ron DeSantis’s makeover of Florida education.
He tried to bail a year ago as he entered the competition to replace Alberto Carvalho as superintendent of the Miami-Dade County school district. Alas for him, they weren’t buying what he was selling.
But Huckabee is. Reminiscent of the incoming DeSantis, Florida’s current governor and hopeful presidential candidate, who made it clear that he did not want to keep Pam Stewart as Florida’s Education Commissioner when she agreed to stay on for a year to ensure a smooth transition to a new leader of the Florida Department of Education, Huckabee seems to want to make dramatic changes to the Arkansas education landscape and what better choice than one of the chief henchmen of the Florida experience?
GOT has seen Jacob Oliva once in person. The FLDOE was writing new standards for Civics education and was holding public meetings throughout the state. The meeting for North Florida took place in Macclenny, the county seat for Baker County, a rural jurisdiction to the west of Jacksonville. The new standards were controversial; thus, it was no surprise that FLDOE might think this was a place where few people would show up.
They were wrong. Jacksonville’s Northside Coalition was out in force as well as other people like teachers, students, and community members. Despite Oliva’s attempts to keep the focus on the proposed standards, the audience was having none of it and almost everyone making a public comment (almost everyone in the audience) spoke for the need for schools to examine the history of race in America, both antebellum and more particularly, postbellum.
Oliva tried to steer the meeting to the standards, but resigned himself to a long period of public comment. Where was the commissioner? Were any state board of education members in attendance? Actually, to GOT’s surprise, one was. Toward the end, Oliva asked repeatedly, “Did anyone else want to comment?”
Not to be egotistical because GOT is a very minor blogger seldom noticed, but since everyone had spoken, he wondered if the Chancellor was referring to him. He had picked up a card to register for public comment, but did not turn it in because everyone else had said what needed to be said. GOT doesn’t speak to hear his voice or satisfy his ego. If others have made the point, that’s fine. No need to make a long meeting longer.
But why was Oliva trying to goad someone into taking the mike? Was it because GOT was wearing a T-shirt that said Black Lives Matter at School? Ben Frazier (leader of the Northside Coalition) took note. At the end of the meeting, he moved his scooter next to GOT’s chair, greeted someone across the room, and snapped a picture … of GOT.
Don’t try us introverts. We may feel no need to speak, but we are very observant.
At the time, GOT wondered whether Oliva was merely doing his best to support his boss or had he really drunk the Kool-Aid?
Wonder no more. He’s going to Arkansas to replicate the DeSantis agenda. Expect AR public schools to ban discussions of race and history if it’s going to make white students uncomfortable …
… so expect this to be erased from Arkansas’ history books. Expect that Arkansas will pass its own version of Florida’s Don’t Be Gay bill (GOT will no longer refer to it as Don’t Say Gay, the intent is clear and DeSantis plans to double down in 2023.) Expect book-banning committees to ransack schools for verboten texts. Expect librarians to become a target.
GOT is sorry for you, Arkansas. So very, very sorry. But then, like Florida, you voted for a governor who will destroy your public schools. Elections have consequences.
Our trash is on the way.