Daily Archives: June 7, 2009

Change in Red Clay Board Policies long overdue

Dear Red Clay School Board Members:

I feel it is your responsibility to approve “all contracts” Red Clay Consolidated School District engages itself in.

We can debate the pros and cons of Teach for America however, that debate is not the issue. The issue is the fact the superintendent can go into a three year contract agreement for $300,000.00 without board approval. The excuse used to rush through this contract rather than waiting until the new superintendent took over was the TFA program needed to be in place to start training in June. There was no dire need to start this program 2009-2010 school year, the shy wasn’t failing.
What this contract has done is put another dark cloud of suspicion over Red Clay and unfortunately over the school board. Any excuse in the future that this was something the former administration did isn’t going to play well as the incoming administration had a level of voice to inject either way. There was no excuse for allowing what appears to be politically inspired action by the Red Clay administration to appease political and private educational reformist not associated with Red Clay.

It is no secret that Governor Jack Markell, The Rodel Foundation and many other non-traditional education reformist supported this contract with Teach for America. Looking for green lights from outside Red Clay to move agendas rather than seeking opinions from the board is a concern.

There is no shortage of teachers in Red Clay nor is there any shortage of applicants. The apparent shortage is at the administration level responsible for teacher recruitment and staff development. I find it quite an embarrassment that the district has to outsource to a private employment agency (TFA) at a cost of $300,000.00 for six teachers or rather six individuals who must be trained to teach. Furthermore, I question a three year contract for a two year program. It appears someone is sowing seeds for expanding Teach for American beyond a two year program.

Though the superintendent had the authority to engage and sign this contract the real flaw is allowing that authority. I respectfully request the board adopt a policy requiring all contracts be approved by the board. This does not hinder the superintendent’s ability to effectively operate Red Clay. The superintendent serves at the pleasure of the school board and the school board serves at the pleasure of the voters. The chain of command leads right back to the people.

I am making an effort to turn the corner with Red Clay and hope for a brighter future however, it’s up to you the school board to set policies to prevent such apparent political inspired business arrangements. There is a consensus that Red Clay not charter anymore charter schools and focus on addressing the concerns of all existing traditional Red Clay schools and respect those charter schools chartered by Red Clay. If the board or any member wants to be so bold to proclaim Teach for American is part of the process to address the needs of Red Clay traditional schools then bring it on.

It is my choice not obligation to do my best to work with you as board members. However, it is your obligation as an elected officials to review, evaluate, address by policy if necessary concerns brought to your attention.

The agreement by the superintendent with Teach of American at best sends up flags of concerns. Assuming the new superintendent will be more thoughtful and perhaps work more openly with the board is just an assumption. We cannot govern the district by assumption and must do so with effective policies and I feel the current policies giving a superintendent such latitude is unwarranted.