11/21/2008

HANSON PLAYS PANGLOSS

Earlier this week, I blogged about FUSD Superintendent Michael Hanson's press conference addressing a controversy at Edison High School, in which a teacher allegedly played 'whistle blower' when a star athlete's 'F' was mysteriously changed to an 'A'. According to the teacher, someone 'higher up' changed it. According to Hanson, there is no evidence anyone but the teacher changed the grade and his press conference pointed the finger of blame squarely at the teacher. That's a bad thing, but it's an isolated thing, and in the best of all possible worlds, this controversy will fade away with the district's reputation intact. In this version of history, Michael Hanson (the district's leading educator) is putting the most optimistic spin possible on this scandal, in the manner of Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss.

Well, let us suppose that Dr. Hanson (er, Pangloss) has the better argument in this case. Just for the sake of discussion, let's presume that the teacher (currently on administrative leave) was the one who actually changed an 'F' to an 'A', and that one can not presume anything one way or the other about the star athlete, and so all the district can do is allow the grade change to stand, and thus allow the athlete to maintain his eligibility.

That would be an unpleasant outcome that would probably end up in court, but at least Dr. Hanson wouldn't be picking a fight with the entire Edison community, its football program and its supporters, who would not only lose their star player, but have all their current season games invalidated and (most likely) lose their former NFL star and community hero coach, Tim McDonald.

Yes, that would be the best of all possible worlds, Dr. Pangloss. The only problem is, the kid in question is clearly ineligible anyway! As this report from KMPH 26 News shows, the athlete has abominable attendance over the last four quarters, non-qualifying athletic GPA in three of those four quarters, and currently has a GPA less than (drumroll, please) 1.00.



In other words, setting aside the teacher's claim, the first move in this matter should not necessarily have been a protracted, expensive investigation of the claim of grade change, but simply a determination of the student's overall status. If he is ineligible anyway, Dr. Pangloss, your administration could've pointed that out and claimed that the student was about to be declared ineligible anyway, and that this incident is no reflection on any particular individual or school community's integrity, and regrettable, etc. That may have been stretching the facts a bit, but it would've kept the faith with all parties publicly while you privately sorted things out. That, Mr. Hanson, would've truly been the best of all possible worlds. Instead, you appear to have gotten yourself into a public relations disaster.

By the way, the well-spoken silver-haired teacher in the video is my colleague, the estimable Jim Horn, doing what he does best: standing up and speaking the truth to power on behalf of his fellow teachers.

3 comments:

WENDEE HOLTCAMP said...

Hey Scott - you should blog about the SBOE hearings! If you want, feel free to even cross-post my blog... I attended and testified. In fact I posted on Daily Kos
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/21/11102/072/467/664645 as well as my own blog.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Done!