I think it’s obvious that teacher quality of life is the most pressing on-the-ground issue in education today. It leads to our teacher shortages. And that, in turn, leaves too many kids in the company of burnt-out teachers or no teachers at all — just some patchwork of subs.
In great part, the destruction of teacher quality-of-life is the core product of the national accountability/reform movement. It’s Florida beginnings lie with Jeb Bush and the FCAT circa 1999.
In Florida, the “accountability” regime has devolved into a formless, shapeless, hopeless, incompetent mass of state-imposed “accountability” goop in which even “good” school districts must drown their teacher experiences. (The main reason it’s so formless, by the way, and that common core is so hated, is that “accountability”‘s later incarnations and cut scores started to make wealthy white kids look bad.)
In short, the teacher quality of life crisis stems from the child-ignoring bureaucratic idiocy and misplaced pride of state and federal education policy. I’m going to write more about ways to deal with teacher quality of life in the hopes that some candidate will pick it up one day.
However, today I’m just going to point out that Polk County has its own compounding teacher quality-of-life problem that severely worsens what Big Education rains down upon it.
Yet it’s quite easy to identify and fix. It has a name: Kathryn LeRoy.
It is difficult for me to exaggerate how thoroughly and completely LeRoy is loathed by the people who work for her. I have far lost track of how many people at all levels of education in Polk County have messaged me or talked to me about the curdled combination of fear and loathing she inspires in them.
Still, to this day, not one person has ever emailed me, called me, commented to me on a story, or in any way suggested any hint of affection or respect for the person running our schools. No one. Nothing. She’s the Caligula of School District emperors, as the LeRivers report makes quite clear.
If you School Board members can’t pick up this massive pulsing swell of hatred from your employees, I have no idea what use you are. Why do we even have a School Board? You’re not going to do anything other than collect your public checks and insurance coverage. It’s all Hunt Berryman’s school of HR management writ large.
Sadly, the School Board uselessness is not surprising to me. What is mildly surprising is the uselessness of Teacher Union leadership.
If I were leading the Polk Education Association, I would have, two days ago, held a no confidence election concerning Kathryn LeRoy.
It’s a no-brainer, if you’re a union leader. Think about it.
1) Our superintendent rips up the collective bargaining agreements I negotiate.
2) Our superintendent is comprehensively and roundly despised by my members.
3) Our quality of life and morale suffers terribly from her every day, which hurts children terribly.
4) She just got revealed in all her glory by an astonishingly embarrassing lawyer’s report that cost my members and public $435/hour.
If I were Marianne Capoziello, I would be calling every news reporter, every blogger, every school newspaper to publicly declare it’s time to liberate the Polk School District from the clutches of LeRoyism.
Ya’ll hearing anything? Didn’t think so.
Go to the PEA website. Its lead item is a “note from the president’s desk” from Dec. 17. She was very upset about something two months ago.
Remember, the Lakeland police union got rid of two chiefs in recent years through no confidence votes — and on the second one, they were actually pretty split. They still dropped the hammer.
That’s why cops always beat teachers. They understand power. In my experience, the great weakness of teachers as a group — and I say this with tough love as my intent — is that they prefer to complain anonymously about powerlessness rather than pursue and assert power publicly.
I daresay a Polk teacher no confidence vote on LeRoy would be unanimous. While you’re at it, throw in Wes Bridges and the School Board and see what happens. What are you afraid of? There’s a teacher shortage. They can’t replace you. So they can’t fire you.
Anyway, I called Marianne Capoziello yesterday afternoon to try to suggest a no confidence vote for the union. Her assistant answered the phone, took my name (I spelled it for her), told me to wait just a second. And then rushed back with a very different tone.
“Um, she’s not available right now.” I could pretty much hear: Um, she’s not available for you, ever.
I left my number with the assistant. I haven’t gotten any return call. And now I don’t need one, although you’re certainly welcome to give me a shout, Marianne. As for the rest of you teachers out there, understand this: your quality of life is my top education concern because grumpy, burnt-out, indifferent teachers are bad for kids and bad for my community. It’s rare that you get a chance to improve quality of life quickly without wrenching systemic changes. This is one of those chances.
I think your union leader is blowing it. Maybe you should hold a no confidence vote on her, too.