Worn Down by Waves of Change: Bureaucracy, Politics Beat Back Succession of Superintendents and Plans

April Witt:

When a board appointed by Congress seized control of the D.C. public schools in 1996, its members were eager to give the school system a clean break from its troubled past. They fired Superintendent Franklin L. Smith, replaced him with a war hero, retired Army Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton Jr., and urged Becton not to bother debriefing Smith.
“I finally decided, ‘This is crazy,’ ” said Becton, who arranged a quiet meeting with his predecessor at a downtown office building. The advice Smith gave was ominous.
“I know you are accustomed to giving orders, turning around and saying, ‘Forward march!’ ” Smith recalled telling Becton. “My only advice is that in this job, you turn around and look to see who is following you. Because every time you think people are following you, they are not. And that includes the inside staff.”
A year and a half later, it was the general’s turn to leave town in frustration, blamed for failing to transform the schools.

One thought on “Worn Down by Waves of Change: Bureaucracy, Politics Beat Back Succession of Superintendents and Plans”

  1. While reading this article I understood his view point but clearly the author went to, and sends his kids to private school. Because I am not sure he understands public schools, for example:
    1. So will private schools accept every student that walks up to thier doorstep or only those that behave, can afford their fee, and who will d provide the transportation, and supplies? If they had to accept every child do you think they would have the same test results and discipline ratings? If they don’t have to accept them are we choosing to not educate our public as we elect to not provide health care?
    2. Will private schools have to follow the same testing requirements, SE and ESL requirements as the public schools or would they be like the current voucher without monitoring , and what about NCLB,do we “fire” those that fail?
    3. Will they provide special education and ESL?
    4. Would Madison just turn its keys over to some private education contract (like philly tried) or would 100’s of private schools be built to provide education?
    5. Would religous organizations or these private organizations cover the cost of the needy in their newly built schools, or would we have a poor school, a special ed school, an ESL school?
    When I read more conservative blogs I am amazed at their lack of understanding of why larger districts struggle with maintaining certain grade point averages and the cost. Smaller schools do not have the number of ESL, SE, low income, transient, or high need students. It’s as though those students never register with them because they never see them.

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