Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell was in a huff a few days ago, checking certifications left and right.
Some of his administrators didn’t/don’t have certificates. Imagine that.
On Monday, Powell sent out a massive email blast to all staff. Take a look:
One-to-one technology initiative
November 3, 2014 at 12:32 PM
Last Tuesday, our district had a board meeting and, among the several items discussed, the district considered whether or not to provide a one-to-one technology initiative. For the last two years, members of the technology department have researched this concept and steps have been taken to improve the infrastructure of each building. Furthermore and most importantly, the educators have both prepared themselves and their students for this next stage of instructional development by creating an educational environment conducive to this high-level initiative.
As the possibility of proceeding with this program approached, some of our educators were asked to research and present this initiative to the local board of education. Teacher-led meetings occurred at one board meeting and, again, at a session prior to another board meeting.
The approved proposal was as follows:
CLICK EACH TO ENLARGE
Although nearly one-million dollars over three years may sound costly, understand that the district maintains a tax rate well below the state average, has a financial reserve of nearly 9 million dollars, and has funding specifically directed for technology. In fact, our district has had one of the largest financial reserves among public school districts in the Commonwealth of Kentucky during each of the last three years, despite spending an additional four million dollars per year in personnel and enduring financial cuts.
Not surprisingly, a lot of misinformation was spread throughout this process and it is difficult to accept such tactics, especially when they are detrimental to educators and students. Some rumors reported that the initiative would cost 3 million per year (see above). Others stated that those living in rural areas would not have access (contrary to the survey and the concept of using cellular methods), and that nearly one-third of the devices would be destroyed by students (the Sterling School has had a similar initiative for two years, without incident). Another rumor suggested that the devices would be out of date as soon as we purchased them (FYI—By that logic, the I-phone 6 is out of date but I am sure that people will use it for at least three years).
Criticism included the belief that teachers would refuse to use the Chromebooks and, also, money would have to be bonded by the district, leaving the district without bonding money for buildings — absolute farces, as well.
As outrageous as the aforementioned is, this type of strategy is often used in this district to produce chaos and confusion. And, more importantly, the rampant untruths are often used to seemingly represent the majority of educators of this district, which also causes disruption for Board members that have a strong desire to do what is right.
In this instance, the educators were able to address the above conspiracies so the Board could have a much more precise and accurate view of the task at hand. Along with this, Debbie Goldy was slated to present and recommend the initiative last Tuesday night. Ms. Goldy was nervous, especially due to the fact that she and her compatriots had performed a lot of passion-filled work. When she approached the podium, a large group of educators followed and remained standing behind her with some being very vocal throughout the lengthy discussion, until approval was finally granted. I strongly believe that many people, including some board members, administrators and other educators, and parents were grateful for the passion and dedication to students that the group demonstrated.
When I arrived in this district in 2011, I quickly realized that my job was to empower many of the exceptional educators. As easy as that may sound, it has been an arduous process. It is my belief that the majority of educators in this district are much too busy (doing the right things) to become involved in the all too often adult-driven and (sometimes) politically-infested activities of the school district. Instead, educators spend their time working with children, accomplishing feats that only others could dream of, such as leading a district from the bottom 24th percentile to the 91st percentile in only three years! At the end of their day they are spent, and assume that governance understands the needs of educators, and will likewise make appropriate decisions. Unfortunately, this can be a faulty assumption and, in the defense of local governance, the right educators have to show up and express themselves at critical junctures. Otherwise, the wrong people (disgruntled individuals, uninformed citizens, alleged experts, and that small percentage that disrupt progress for no apparent reason) can dictate the decisions and direction of the school district.
With this, I am pleased to report that some of our finest educators became immersed in the decision to provide Chromebooks to our students. They were very vocal and active with regard to gaining approval for the initiative and I can say, without hesitation, that the teachers were the sole reason that this initiative was unanimously approved. The outstanding educators were able to express and clarify instructional objectives far beyond what I, or any other administrator, could.
Frankly, the experience gave me cold chills and I took notice of the empowerment that occurred Tuesday night. I was greatly inspired and humbled by the actions of the educators. Moreover, I gained a strong sense of home for the future because—make no mistake about it—the educators drove the decision-making of the board, and I sincerely hope this practice continues in the future.
I hope that each of you are as excited as I am about this upcoming opportunity. I congratulate all those that helped our district achieve this accomplishment, especially those that worked diligently on this initiative. We are taking the next step in preparing our students for the 21st Century and there are no educators better equipped to do so more than those in Montgomery County.
Please give a nice pat on the back to those that represented you at the board meeting. I guarantee that you could not have been represented any better. I know that the Board members were greatly appreciative, as well, and when conversing with some, they reported that they were equally inspired by the activism. Please remember that a very small minority of individuals can do the majority of speaking for us all.
Joshua E. Powell, Ph.D.
Montgomery County Public Schools
Here’s the deal:
You already know the teachers who showed up were coerced into appearing. We published the Powell emails about it.
You already know the costs of the Chromebooks, despite what he claims was rumor. He’s spending millions to rent computers. No one claimed the lease would cost $3 million per year, ever.
Fun thing: he’s using projection. Blaming everyone else for his own tactics and behavior.
Most important thing? He’s wrong about a minority of uninformed citizens. Because a majority of people voted on Tuesday to send him packing.
Finally, check out this front page bit:
THIS WEEK’S ADVCOATE
A reminder that MoCo will be getting a new superintendent soon enough.