Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top-down decision making masquerades as "site-based management"

I recently noted that Richard Hanks and Monica Sorenson have become principals at Chula Vista Elementary School Disrict. I suspect this is an omen that top-down decision making will continue, and will continue based on the same principles of doing what's best for the people in charge.

Former Superintendent Libia Gil remade the district in her own image, and it has remained the same even though she herself was pushed out in March 2002. [I suspect she was pushed out not because she broke the law, but because she made such a mess while doing so.]

Gil beat the union (Chula Vista Educators) by co-opting and corrupting its leaders, specifically Jim Groth, Virginia (Gina) Boyd, Tim O'Neill and the board of directors.

See Site-based management for a peek at some of Libby Gil's cheerleaders.

It was obvious all along that neither Libby Gil nor her assistant superintendent Lowell Billings believed in the democratic principles they were spouting to sell site-based management. Chula Vista Elementary School District's Superintendent Lowell Billings apparently watched closely and learned from his predecessor Libia Gil, who managed to increase her power without ever saying much of anything.

Billings continues to promote the system as implemented at CVESD, which always involved top-down decision-making, never democracy at the school site.

It also involved laziness and neglect. So things would often get out of hand at various schools, and then the district office would swoop in and fire people, or, if they were political allies, bring them back to the district office for their own protection.

In 2008 CVESD superintendent Lowell Billings had a new problem. The school that was trying to make its own decisions was a charter school. The staff didn't think that principal Erik Latoni should make all the decisions.

Once again, Lowell wanted to swoop in and take control. He threatened to to terminate the charter of Feaster Elementary School because the people who run the school actually work at the school. Instead of "site-based decision-making," this is now being called "a conflict of interest" by Mr. Billings. The meaning of the words changes whenever the people in charge feel it's necessary.

It's probably worthwhile to note that CVESD rehired Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz in 2008. Apparently the board was impressed with Shinoff's work at MiraCosta College. I notice a striking similarity in the arguments used to attack Feaster Elementary and the arguments used to justify the actions of the majority-bloc of trustees at MiraCosta.

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