Last week, Hartford’s Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto, sent a letter to the Hartford Board of Education (her employer) saying,
“I will not engage in political debate with board members…My duty, my sole concern, is for the academic and career success of our Hartford school children and youth.”
Meanwhile, rather than take calls from the media, she directed that all calls about the situation be referred to her attorney.
Although the immediate debate was about whether Kishimoto was communicating sufficiently with the Hartford Board of Education, the real impetus behind the superintendent’s bizarre and incredible letter was the performance evaluation that the Board of Education’s recently concluded.
Last year, the Board of Education and the Superintendent agree to an evaluation process that was based on a variety of indicators and measures.
Of the 10 student achievement targets that Superintendent Kishimoto was to be evaluated on, she “failed to meet most of them.”
On other key measures, the Superintendent was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being unacceptable and 5 noting outstanding performance.
Her score for educational leadership was a rather dismal 3.0. When it came to engaging stakeholders, such as parents, teachers, community members, she scored a 2.4, and, as for the school board-superintendent relationship, Kishimoto got a failing 1.6 rating.
Considering the Hartford Courant has championed Governor Malloy’s effort to use “teacher evaluations” as the best vehicle to determine which teachers to keep and which to let go, one would have reasonably expected that any Courant editorial would take the Superintendent to task for her failing evaluation.
Instead the Courant called on the Hartford School Board and the Superintendent to, “mend” their relationship, and the Courant editorial went on to say, “Ms. Kishimoto knows reform. She’s top-notch at it, as her supporters point out.”
Failure to meet agreed upon achievement targets, low scores on educational leadership and engaging stakeholders, and utter failure to maintain a good relationship with her employer, and the Courant suggests her “top-notch” understanding of reform means she should keep her job?
How much clearer could it be?
Education reformers talk a good game, but refuse to walk the walk.
They demonize teachers and teacher tenure and suggest that teacher evaluation is the single greatest step we can take to turnaround the American education system. Then they turn the other cheek when one of their own falls flat on the most basic measures of performance and achievement.
And to top it off, Hartford has a superintendent of schools, a public servant, who is pulling down six figures, who has the audacity to say to the Board of Education, “I will not engage in political debate with board members…”?
Perhaps the Superintendent missed the college class when students were taught that political debate is the discussion of policy options and, in this case, the role of the Board of Education to make appropriate policy decisions as the formal legislative body of Hartford’s school system.
We’re not talking about name calling or character assassination; we are talking about the most fundamental role of the superintendent – board of education relationship.
Her claim that she is somehow above engaging in “political debate” suggests that she doesn’t know the meaning of the term, doesn’t understand the role of the Board of Education or apparently feels that the obligation of democratic governmental systems simply don’t apply to her.
Between her inappropriate letter and her scores on her recent evaluation, she certainly appears unable to successfully perform her job.
If those who believe that “evaluation” is the measure of who should stay and who should be let go, then Hartford‘s Superintendent of Schools should be packing up her office and looking for another job.
For more background see the Courant article and editorial – http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-kishimoto-eval-0928-20120927,0,4935745.story and http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-superintendent-turmoil-in-hartford-schools-20120927,0,5491532.story