My goodness, this is a really UGLY little story. Earlier this year, a teacher comes forward with a sensational claim: that a star athlete with lamentable attendance and a failing grade in his spring 2008 course had his grade changed from an 'F' to an 'A'. claiming a student who cut his class more than 60 times in one semester and failed the course. An administrator at the same school initially confirmed these particulars. Shortly afterwards, the teacher was placed on administrative leave and it was further alleged that his classroom computer was swiped, recovered by administration but not returned to the teacher.
Now, in a substantial (this is not a sound bite) press conference that begins with a bit of rhetorical hand-washing with respect to his goals as a Supe, Dr. Michael Hanson puts the finger of blame squarely on the instructor in question. You can watch the entire performance here.
I sit here and wonder, along with Pilate, 'What is truth?' It's really hard to understand why the instructor would've allegedly blown the whistle on himself. It's equally hard to understand why the administration would find it productive to demonize the teacher. At worst, the teacher is part of the problem, not the sole problem. If there is a school culture in some places in the district where some kids manage to miss class regularly yet end up, in Hanson's words, in Ivy League schools, then I have to say I missed the memo. If a kid has more than 10 absences with me in a semester, they will almost certainly earn a below-average grade. Hanson suggests that this may be a systemic problem, and that's a concern.
Anyway, while I don't agree with everything that comes down the pike from administration, I have to say that I like Hanson's approach personally. He works hard and stays on-message. We are starting to see some gains in performance from incoming freshmen, and our Supe and his team deserve some credit for that, doubtless. After the me-driven, all style-but-no-substance tenure of his predecessor, Hanson's work ethic and willingness to commit new financial resources to areas of need is refreshing.
But...still....was it absolutely the best thing to provide such a detailed breakdown of 'deficiencies in employee performance' ? Absence of evidence (that someone other than the teacher might've cooked the gradebook on June 11th) is not evidence of absence, and there is a little thing called due process. Hanson is doubtless correct that the district will be litigated, but does the stand taken in this press conference makes it more or less likely that things will go well for administration? I have to wonder.
The Fresno Teacher's Association has issued a bulletin to classroom teachers expressing their (to put it mildly) disappointment and concern about how the Edison teacher has been treated, and expressing their doubts as to the teacher's culpability. The story being given to the media by the district is not the same tale that is being circulated by the union. Imagine that! Anyway, while I am inclined to believe it is possible that the classroom teacher may have not been sufficiently diligent with securing the district's computer, I agree with a show of solidarity in support of the teacher, who has not exactly been afforded due process. The union is requesting that we wear black shirts every Wednesday until this matter has been resolved, among other things.
Guess what color T-shirt I have on at the moment?