DEAR DAWG: Our new superintendent fancies himself the type of hard charging CEO who could end up on the cover of Fortune magazine. He thinks our school should run more like a business and that educators lack the type of discipline and work ethic that it takes to succeed in “the real world.” Here is a sample of some of the memos he has written to staff of late:
Staff: If you are not happy working here, I suggest you get a job elsewhere. Any conversation reflecting unhappiness or unrest among my employees will lead to immediate termination.
Staff: Idle conversation and gossip in this office among employees will result in immediate termination. Don’t talk about other people and other things in this office. DO YOUR JOBS AND KEEP YOUR MOUTHS SHUT!
Staff: I swear. That comes as a privilege around here because I am the superintendent. No one else is allowed to swear, ever. No swearing by anyone but me around here. This means you.
Staff: There will be no more birthday celebrations, birthday cakes, levity or celebrations of any kind within the office. This is a business office. If you want to celebrate, do it on your own time.
What do you think, Dawg? You work in the private sector. Is this really how it is out there? I’M NOT THE ONE WHO WAS SWEARING.
DEAR I’M NOT THE ONE: As a general rule, we would say NO— that is not at all how it works in the private sector. However, your superintendent seems to be a graduate of the TIGER MIKE SCHOOL OF LEADERSHIP. Edward “Tiger Mike” Davis was the owner of the Tiger Oil Company in Houston in the 1970s. His blistering, but highly entertaining, memos to staff have now been published at www.lettersofnote.com. There are a bunch of them, some of them very similar to your new superintendent’s memos. Take a look. We think you will find it amusing. As for your superintendent, we don’t foresee a lengthy or successful career in public education. In public ed, we like birthday cakes, balloons and other forms of positive reinforcement. And while we do not approve of gutter-mouthed employees, we think the rules should be the same for all employees. Furthermore, your supe is way out of date with his belief that the “real world” allows the boss to be an autocratic dictator. Doesn’t really work that way in public or private sector.
DEAR DAWG: The five superintendents in our county agreed to a solemn pact. On days when the weather was an issue, we would get together on a conference call at 5:00 a.m. and we would make a collec- tive decision. Either we all shut down, or we all go to school—but we all do the same thing. Well! Last week we had our early morning call and we all agreed—we ALL agreed—that we would shut it down for the day. The forecast was horrendous. So I put the word out to my schools and expected the others to do the same. Well, it turns out that the supe at Wayabovenormal ISD reneged. They had school that day. And as it turns out, our weather forecast was way off base. The sleet and ice never came, and by noon it was 55 degrees. We could have had school, should have had school, and didn’t need to cancel the track meet. Bottom line: their superintendent looks like a hero while the other four of us look like idiots. We got bombarded with angry phone calls and emails from parents who had to take off work or pay a sitter to watch the kids. So we are wondering what we can do about our lying, two-faced, hypocritical colleague who went back on his word. We don’t like the guy anyway, Dawg, we never did. He keeps throwing his PhD in our face, like this makes him superior to us. It doesn’t help that his school outperforms all of us in athletics and academics. We know that’s true, but we think it has a whole lot more to do with the income level in that district rather than his so-called “leadership.” What can we do? We went to the media with this, but that didn’t turn out so well. Mr. “I Have a PhD. and You Don’t” released a statement in response: “In Wayabovenormal ISD we rely on the latest and most accurate weather forecasts so that we can ensure student safety and cancel classes only when necessary. We are aware of the hardship last minute cancellations can cause and we care too much about our parents and students to impose any unnecessary hardships. If the other districts in the county had followed our lead, as they do in all other matters, we would not be having this conversation. Unfortunately, my colleagues in the other districts relied on groupthink and fear, rather than science.” So what other recourse do we have here? NOT TOO HAPPY WITH THE WEATHER MAN EITHER.
DEAR NOT TOO HAPPY: Well, you can kick the guy out of your group. You can organize a guerrilla campaign of PIA requests that will tie up his staff’s time. But your best option is to get a better football coach and beat them next year—there’s nothing like a smack- down on the gridiron to cause a superintendent’s leadership skills to be called into question. Best of luck, and let’s hope for good weather the rest of the year.
DEAR DAWG: Can you clear up the mystery of how our high schools get classified in the UIL? I know we now have 6A for the really humongous schools. I know that as a general rule, the small schools are 1A and the big ones are 6A. But what exactly is the rubric here? Surely there is a simple method. 2A AND WANTING TO MOVE UP.
DEAR 2A: If you are 2A and wanting to move up to 3A you need to convince Sonic to move into your town. If you don’t have a Sonic, you can’t be 3A. We heard this explanation recently from none other than Dr. Charles Breithaupt, Executive Director of the UIL. According to Dr. B, here is how it breaks down:
Your town lacks even a DQ: You are 1A
Your town has a DQ but no Sonic: You are 2A Your town has a DQ and a Sonic: Welcome to 3A!
Your town has a DQ, Sonic and a Walmart! 4A, Baby!! Your town has a DQ, Sonic, and a Super Walmart! 5A Multiple Starbucks: 6A
We suspect that Dr. B was speaking tongue in cheek, but at the same time, this is probably pretty close to accurate. So get that Sonic in your town. That, along with a few more kids, will move you up to 3A.
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