Monday, July 09, 2007

"Controversies" is not the right word

Beth Everitt has announced that she will not seek a renewal of her contract. Her decision was announced at a news conference this morning.

Believe me when I tell you that I thought quite a while before writing this post. It is not my style to kick someone when they are down.

However, Supt. Everitt's repeated use of the word "controversies" to describe gradegate, the handling of the reassignment of principals, and the scandal in the APS Police Department; is misleading and deceitful. I cannot let it just slide.

To make absolutely certain that I was not splitting hairs; I searched internet dictionaries until it was clear that I was not going to come upon even an obscure definition that would justify the use of the word controversy in this context.

Controversy means; a dispute between sides holding opposing views, a dispute where there is strong disagreement,contention, dispute; debate, discussion, agitation of contrary opinions.
The scandals that have rocked Beth Everitt's administration of the APS are not controversies.
Scandal means; a publicized incident that brings about disgrace or offends the moral sensibilities, a circumstance that causes or ought to cause disgrace or outrage, a public disclosure of immoral or grossly improper behavior; disgrace.
Was the apparent public corruption and criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS PD a difference of opinion; were there opposing views that prompted discussion and debate? Or were there circumstances that caused or ought to have caused outrage and disgrace?

Why does it make any difference?

It makes a difference because the word controversy is being used to minimize the corruption and incompetence at the heart of all three scandals. It makes a difference because it is being used to escape accountability for the scandals by legitimizing their existence.

At the news conference Supt. Everitt posited that in a district where a superintendent was making tough choices, there is bound to be controversy. And,that there has "always" been controversy in the APS . These positions are true. And because they are true, the current "controversies" are natural, acceptable and enjoy historical precedent. Controversial behavior is acceptable.

Except that the current "controversies" are not controversies at all; they are scandals. And scandalous behavior is not acceptable.

Further, during the news conference, stakeholders were led to believe that the only kind of administrative audit that might be commissioned would audit the structure of the APS, but not the conduct of members of the administration of the APS. Paula Maes pointed out the Council of Great City Schools won't audit personnel; which is true. But the CoGCS is not the only organization that does audits. If Maes and Everitt were prepared for a forensic audit of the administration of the APS; they could find someone to do it.

Maes tried to suggest that HB 212 prevented an audit of personnel. She stated that HB 212 says that the board cannot judge anybody else's job except for the superintendent. While this may be true, it certainly doesn't prevent the superintendent from commissioning an audit of the competence and conduct of her subordinates.

And last, but not least, Maes tried to give credit to Supt. Everitt, for "cleaning up" the APS PD.

She is to be given credit for cleaning up her own mess;

but she will not held accountable for creating it.

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