Monday, January 08, 2007

A Teacher's View of John Marshall Alternative School

A teacher posted on a comment on a previous thread (John Marshall Alternative School) that I thought was interesting enough to warrant a separate posting. Anonymous said:
I wish I had found this thread a month ago...I am a teacher at Marshall, and I felt relief when the Times article was published that finally the truth is being told. There is some learning going on at Marshall, in spite of Joe Drake, because of a handful of good teachers who care very much about the students who end up at the school. The story the Times told was only the tip of the iceberg as far as the disservices that are being done to many students. The education of those who want to learn is being stolen by Dr. Drake and a few others, and because the students are mostly poor or otherwise marginalized (like Kathy Graves) their concerns are never heard by the district. I believe that the district knows that they need to get rid of Drake, and are using the school closure as an opportunity to get rid of him. He really is bringing down the whole ship. There is a huge need for a school that serves this population in the north end, and I hate that because of poor leadership and a lack of accountability on the district's part, these students will go back to dropping out of the big high schools. The article also noted that many teachers and parents have complained about Drake over the years, but THERE IS NO RECORD OF THESE COMPLAINTS IN HIS FILE! I smell a rat at the Stanford Center, but maybe not the same one Charlie Mas smells...

I'd love to hear from other teachers, students and staff at John Marshall about their views on this subject.


Anonymous said...

This just brings me to tears because I am at Whittier and I have friends at AE2 (who also have principal problems) and we are wondering how these principals stay?

I am so scared we will get worse and now I wonder if the "complains" that are sent about principals are ever made official.

I know several people who complained higher up about our principal but nothing happened. Why is this and why is it hard to find a qualified leader?

This worries me because I doubt our Interim is any more than that and we will be thrown another unskilled leader like a dog is thrown a discarded bone.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Whittier's interim came from Lowell and from my friends with students there, is a good principal. Also, there are several fine principals in schools that are closing in the fall that will be available. I would guess that because there will be principals available that Whittier will get an interview committee and be part of the process. (If it's a new hire, then no.)

To be fair, there are new principals like there are new teachers. They do get training and internships before they become principals.

I don't know what is meant by "complaints being made official". If you mean do they go to the top, I'm not sure. There are elementary ed directors who probably would be the first to hear of problems. If you mean are they somewhere the public can read them, not a chance. There are too many union rules to protect them.

My thought is to talk to other parents. Are they seeing the same things you are? Document them. When you go to the district, go to the ed director associated with your school and be calm and direct and after you talk, ask what will happen next. Document your visit and send an e-mail the ed director and cc it your Board member and Carla Santorno (Chief Academic Officer.

Anonymous said...

I have been unhappy with Whittier's leadership for years. Already the interim has said more positive things than Coberly did in his whole term. She also doesn't seem like someone that the senior teachers (or Spectrum parents for that matter) can push around.

I am convinced that we will get lucky and when she leaves we will get one of these fine principals that Melissa spoke of...we paid our dues. I do think, with our school being in the media spotlight like this we will reap our rewards. Does the District really want to give us another problem? I doubt it.

So a very positive thing can come out of this. As I said before, Whittier deserves as much and now we will get what we have long deserved.

Anonymous said...

The difference between Whittier and John Marshall is that Whittier has active parents. Imagine what could (and has) happen if there are no parent "watchdogs". Marshall doesn't even have a PTA!