Monday, July 06, 2015

Luis Valentino's defining moment?

It is unclear at this point, what it is that APS Supt. Luis Valentino has in mind for his presentation during a special school board meeting next Wednesday. The board will meet in special session at 5pm to consider changes to the Student Behavior Handbook.

The handbook is an administrative brainchild.

It is written above the 14th grade level; far above the reading level of even the best student readers.  The handbook is reviewed and approved by the school board.  The annual review, approval and vote has already taken place.  This reconsideration is unprecedented.

The agenda has no public forum; no opportunity for the public to weigh in on the "semantic" changes.  There will be an audio recording made, but it will not be posted on APS award winning website.  A video record will not be made of their faces as they discuss and determine the standards for students, and if you believe in role modeling, their own standards of conduct.

... we don't need no stinkin' input!
The Policy and Instruction Committee is chaired by David Peercy.  Peercy harbors a disregard for public comment that borders on contemptuous.

It is his decision, link, that there will be no public discussion of student and adult standards of conduct.  It is his will that not only will a role modeling clause be not be restored to his standards of conduct; but that there will be no public discussion or review of his determination.

The "semantic" changes Valentino proposes are still secret.  They cannot be linked to from the agenda, link.  My request for them has gone unanswered.  Normally, those are not good signs of impending transparency.  I wouldn't be surprised to find their refusal to publish when they published the agenda, the records that will be discussed and decided upon, violates the Open Meetings Act meetings notice requirements - in spirit if not the letter.

One of Supt. Valentino's greatest responsibilities will be the enforcement and execution of the district's student discipline policies and procedures.  Student discipline is never discussed out loud.  Solving problems is hampered by an historical practice of first hiding the problem and then trying to fix it.

Part of the student discipline problem is that for at least the last 21 years, there has not been a single school board member or senior administrator who was obviously accountable to the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.  Their public record is of the most egregious lack of accountability, spending untold operational dollars on efforts to escape earned consequences.

There has never been in two decades, a senior administrative or executive role model of student standards of conduct.  Student standards of conduct happen to be the Pillars of Character Counts!, and have been since they were adopted in 1994.

If there were ever anyone, even one person, who held themselves honestly and actually accountable to the same standards as students, there would be a record of that accountability.  Accountability, real honest to God accountability creates a record.  They have no record of accountability against their will.

The buck stops with Luis Valentino when the need is for a senior administrator to stand up and tell students;
this is how we expect you to behave at school.
and then show them what that looks like.

There is no such thing as do as I say, not as I do.  People act like there is; every generation expects the next generation to be the first generation to hold itself accountable to higher standards of conduct, but it has never worked for the same reasons it does not work now and will not work ever.

aps image
Whether he likes it or not;
whether he admits it or not;
whether he embraces it or not,

Dr Luis Valentino is now, the
senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct; whatever they are.

Because the school board adopted and has not rescinded the adoption of the Pillars of Character Counts!; it is up to Luis Valentino to stand up in front of students and tell them that they are expected to model and promote honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!; nationally recognized, accepted and respected higher standards of conduct.

There is no such thing as an inconspicuous role model.  The whole idea is to set an example.  APS students are in need of role models of accountability to whatever standards are established and enforced upon them.  It could be argued, students have a right to positive role models and role modeling in and from their senior-most role models.

Valentino's problem is that there are double standards of conduct in the APS;
  • one for students; standards than are higher standards than the law, and 
  • one for politicians and powerful public servants; the law (subject to spending without limit and without oversight on litigation and legal weaselry the purpose of which is to escape accountability even to the law).
Valentino cannot continue the double standard.  I say that as a matter of conscience not of practicality.  From a practical standpoint, he could easily continue the double standard and continue to get away with it; continuing to enjoy the cover of the Journal and NMBA affiliate station news directors.

There is a better than even chance that the "semantic" changes that Valentino plans will in fact lower the expectations for students.  The last time the board met in similar circumstances, it was to remove the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct.

The only information we are given about the changes he intends is;
In the interim, Administration would like to make semantic changes to the current Handbook to better reflect our expectations of the document to serve as a guide or a reference for students on how to conduct themselves. It should serve to empower students to make decisions. The student handbook would reflect our expectations of students and if those expectations are not met to outline the appropriate consequences.

It appears there will be a defining moment early in Luis Valentino's superintendency.

As far as I can see, his choices are;
end the hypocrisy by;
  • restoring the role modeling clause and expectation to their standards of conduct, because if we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone has to show them what they look like.
  • lowering student standards of conduct far enough the he and the rest will hold themselves accountable as role models of accountability to them, or
  • explaining to students in words they can understand; why it is; they expected to hold themselves accountable to higher standards of conduct than their senior-most role models.
or continue the hypocrisy by
  • continuing to stonewall in spite of the student standards of conduct, of which he is the senior-most administrative role model, which prohibit all acts, including half-truths, out-of-context statements, and even silence, that are intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading*.
*such as,
the leadership of the APS is actually, honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct, just like students.

photo Mark Bralley

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