March 9, 2001
By August L. Castille Sr.
During a school meeting held at Lincoln Academy on February 28, some staff members and students remonstrated the school chief, Alan Bersin and Dr. Alvarado for their slanted and unfair reporting to the parents, school employees, students, and community members about the disgraceful failures and low performances of students at Lincoln High School for more than a decade.
As usual, smooth rhetoric and superficial reporting by the superintendent did not produce a positive evaluation of the school administrator's progress, neither did it reflect the heroic efforts of teachers and staff during past superintendents' leadership.
Mr. Bersin suggested that questions be held until after the reporting period, but the alert and concerned parents thought that questions should be permitted as opportunities were presented.
Mr. Bersin's rhetoric did not flow as smoothly as usual from the superintendent's mouth, neither did the lengthy, oftentimes questionable and slanted statistics from Dr. Alvarado receive apparent acceptance. As usual, there were questions that were not and will not be answered because of the demonstrative strategy that Alvarado uses during his reports and his ability to talk down to people and get away with it.
While our school chiefs vacillated about their plans that are failing and the costly experimentation that is currently taking place, there was absolute silence from the Board members, and a "Let's wait and see" nonverbal message from some of our community leaders.
As Mr. Bersin proceeded to dig a hole for himself and the questions became confrontational, but not hostile, one of our prominent community leaders attempted to temper the parents questions to a less accusatory nature by "focusing on solutions." He did not take into consideration that this may have been the only occasion for these parents to address their concerns and to express them emotionally before the superintendent and members of the Board (most of whom had left). The superintendent has to be accountable. The Board is his boss, and the members are our elected representatives. We need not intercede for an autonomous leader that acts irresponsibly. Fortunately, the questions continued in the same context with the approval of a non-demonstrative audience.
Students from Lincoln applauded their professional and caring teachers and Mr. Bass, Lincoln's Principal, for their encouragement and successes in bringing students with low self-esteem and low academic reportsback to school with renewed efforts and vision for a successful future.
The superintendent and Dr. Alvarado attempted to justify their ludicrous, immoral, and careless spending at the demise of programs that schools would like to retain. Unfortunately, the parents had no voice in those decisions.
Unfortunately, also, is that parents do not seem to play any roles of importance in budget and spending regardless of the programs. Dr. Alvarado and the superintendent spoke about the academic problems but could not assure any one that they were prepared to do anything positive about the solutions.
Mr. Bass's comments added an enlightening element to the meeting in that he exemplified teaching, working with students, and being an able school leader is all about. His message was profound and encouraging in that it expressed the importance of being humanly involved. Without attempting to paraphrase, his message was that we must be about dealing with human beings with multiplicity of problems, multiplicity talents, and personalities; therefore, we must be instrumental in making students better when they leave than when they came to us. In short, we in education must have the zeal of a missionary and the vision of a prophet.