Soucheray: It won’t make any Difference who the Super is. No Difference at all

This story was copied from Joe Soucheray, a columnist at the Pioneer Press.  The story was originally published in the Pioneer Press on June 17, 2016.  We have not altered the content, but have closed some links and added a different headline.  ~~ Publius Jr.


St. Paul Public Schools superintendent Valeria Silva is interviewed in her office in St. Paul on Friday, February 5, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)
St. Paul Public Schools superintendent Valeria Silva is interviewed in her office in St. Paul on Friday, February 5, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

Soucheray: Another search. Another superintendent. Another member of the Super Club.

By JOE SOUCHERAY | jsoucheray@pioneerpress.com
June 17, 2016

What can be said on Valeria Silva’s behalf is that it won’t make any difference who succeeds her. That isn’t exactly the gift of a gold watch, but as a school superintendent who might get bought out of her contract, she can buy a watch manufacturing company.

It is called the Super Club. Most of us have been on to it for years. School superintendents have a better gig than NFL coaches and are surrounded by at least as many assistants, sycophants, factotums and manservants. Supers come into your town and tell you important things about the community and how they intend to have the students rise above the fray. They tell us that we all have to work together and believe in the great promise of education and, oh, by the way, we need more money. Soucheray

Supers are rainmakers. They always need more money.
Silva isn’t at all unique. She can be a super with the best of them. They are all untouchable and they all land on their feet. You might say, well, they are touchable, because they can be removed by school boards. Yes, and then comes the landing-on-their-feet part. Silva succeeded Meria Carstarphen. They all last about three to five years on average, though Silva has outlasted the average. Their act wears thin and new school board members who are eager to tell us that they know what they are doing better than the super start grumbling, and the next thing you know, the taxpayers are on the hook to buy the super out of a contract.

Carstarphen went from St. Paul to, I believe, Austin, Texas, and is now the super in Atlanta.

It doesn’t make any difference. A great fuss and bother will be made to hire a consultant and scour the nation for the next best answer, and it just doesn’t make any difference.

Silva is being held accountable by a grumbling school board for falling reading scores and student violence. What was Silva supposed to have done, visit each home in the city and read to a kid? Falling reading scores are an inattentive parent problem.

Silva presumably can be held accountable, at least in part, for the appalling increase in the lousy behavior of students. She had to be a part of the brain trust that bought into a San Francisco consultant group called the Pacific Education Group. They came in here and sold a bill of goods that said, basically, if a minority kid acts up, it isn’t the minority kid’s fault. It is the fault of systemic racism and therefore the kid should be excused and not too severely disciplined.

That works real well. You would think that after a few teachers suffered concussions after fights with violent students, they would dump that horse manure, but that’s not what supers do. When you get in the Super Club, you defend tooth and nail your brilliant decisions, even when they are complete failures.

Oh, it is a wonderful, exclusive club. In the first place, once you are a super, you are rarely seen by the public. Carstarphen lived on Summit Avenue near Fairview. I know a guy in that neighborhood who knows everybody in that neighborhood, one of those guys. He never once saw Carstarphen, not even out for a walk. Not once.

Supers surround themselves with about 100 assistants, each of whom has a clipboard and a laptop and are on alert to tell the super when to go to her next meeting. Even as Silva’s buyout is being considered, the district faces a $15.1 million deficit. Nevermind that that is inexcusable. You want to know where you could save the money? Go to 360 S. Colborne St., the district castle, and thin the herd of redundant bureaucrats and administrators. That’s another thing supers do. They bring in more people to pile on top of the people that the previous super brought in.

Go ahead and buy her out for $600,000, a longevity bonus, a car allowance and 32 vacation days. She might even have to emerge at some school as a teacher or an administrator, but that part of her contract is unlikely to be realized. She is, after all, a super.

And then get ready for the next expensive dog and pony show which will be exactly like all preceding dog and pony shows.

It won’t make any difference who the super is. No difference at all.

Joe Soucheray

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s