Thursday, April 23, 2015

Voice of San Diego failed to see the problem with too much collegiality between the teachers union and Poway Unified

Was the first warning that something was wrong in Poway a May 2012 article by VOSD's Andrew Donohue?

In May 2012 Voice of San Diego presented an idyllic image of the Poway Federation of Teachers in a story about PFT President Candy Smiley.  Editor Andrew Donohue gushed about "the unique lesson Poway has to teach."

Three months later Voice of San Diego did an excellent job explaining Poway Unified's CAB scandal (the capital appreciation bond deal exposed by Joel Thurtell) but VOSD never connected the bond deal to excessive collaboration between Candy Smiley and the district.

I gave information to Voice of San Diego showing that both teacher union officials and school officials have been shirking their duties as they have formed over-friendly relationships with each other. Individuals on both sides have advanced their own personal agendas at the expense of the students and teachers they are paid to serve.  In November 2012 I warned about the dangers of too much collegiality between teacher unions and school districts.

Now, three years later, Voice of San Diego has finally decided that there's a problem:

 How Poway Unified Went from Big Happy Family to Family Feud
Ashly McGlone
For years, Poway Unified School District has existed as a kind of educational Never-Neverland: a place where school officials and the teachers union sailed through negotiations, brokering amicable deals that – for the most part – left both sides content even in tough times.
But that all seems to be unraveling.
It turns out that Poway’s successes occurred while the district and teacher’s union were breaking labor laws that require public notice of their contract talks. Now other labor unions are mad, and new school board members – elected to provide more oversight in the wake of a bond-deal blowup – are seeking change.
At the center of the dispute is Superintendent John Collins and the president of the Poway Federation of Teachers, Candy Smiley.
“John and Candy cut up the pie,” said school board member Charlie Sellers, who was elected in November. “The previous board simply rubber-stamped their action and this board is actually questioning their actions and they don’t like it.”...

VOSD has certainly changed its tune.  It is no longer talking about the "unique lesson that Poway has to teach." The relationship that Andrew Donohue wanted other districts to emulate now seems rather ominous: "Over the last two decades, though, the union and district have forged an uncommonly collaborative bond that started with trust on the budget and has now gone far beyond."

Yes, they were collaborative all the way to a huge scandal about CAB school bonds.

I don't believe that the Poway school board would have been able to pull of the CAB stunt without the blessing of the teachers union.

When there's too much "collegiality" among the people who run schools, different points of view don't get aired. Decisions are made behind closed doors. All the public ever sees is the smiling faces of the people who get along so very well together.

P.S.  I'm waiting for Voice of San Diego to formally announce a big change in its no-anonymous-comments policy.  The policy was suspended in February, when VOSD decided to disconnect links to all commenter profiles.  The explanation given for this decision was that some commenter profiles had been accidentally disconnected due to the launch of the new website.  It's a wonder that VOSD has not been able to reconnect the links over the past two months.  

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