Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

What Changes Wardynski Hath Wrought

Ohanian Comment:

NOTE the Huntsville career path: Casey Wardynski
Retired Army colonel who taught economics at West Point an spent 10 months before behing hired by Huntsville as chief financial officer for the school system in Aurora, Colo.

I'd guess the board was snowed by Wardynski's career in numbers crunching. This is from America's Army:

Colonel Casey Wardynski is the Director of the U.S. Army's Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis (OEMA) at the United States Military Academy. Colonel Wardynski also serves as an Associate Professor of Economics within the Department of Social Sciences.

As the Director of OEMA, Colonel Wardynski provides policy analysis and advice to senior Army leaders including the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the Army G1 and G3, and Commanders of Major Subordinate Commands of the Army. By applying economic and statistical analysis to time sensitive policy problems, he provides senior leaders with definitive policy advice on issues ranging from Soldier compensation structure to recapitalization of the Army tank fleet. So as to reduce the career information search and assimilation costs associated with learning about Soldiering, Colonel Wardynski developed the concept for the Army Game Project. He serves as the Army manager for the development and operational phases of the project known to the public as America's Army, a PC game designed to provide civilians with an inside perspective and a virtual role in today's modern Army.

Did you know that the Rand Corporation has a graduate school? This is where Wardynski got his Ph.D.

Of course it's no surprise that he's a Broad graduate. When you want people who are trained to follow orders, look to the military. Take a look at the military connections in the Broad Academy class of 2010:

Commanding General of the US Army Human Resources Command
United States Army, Va

Former Chief of Operations
NATO Afghan Operations, Netherlands

Director, Human Performance Resource Center
United States Army

Director, Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis,
United States Military Academy
United States Army, N.Y.

Geek Palaver does a smart thing on his blog: He provides link to school board members, with their email addresses, on his website.

About himself he says, "Stephen King writes, 'Truth is in the details.' About this he is correct; I'm afraid that's why the administration of our system seems hell bent on obscuring the details of nearly everything they do. For that, I'm trying to call them out."

Here you will see Philip Kovacs asking the Huntsville board of ed a lot of questions. They chose not to respond.

Geek Palaver does us all a public service by providing Kovacs' questions. These are questions everyone across the country should be asking:

1. You've claimed there is "overwhelmingly positive research" in support of Teach for America. This is demonstrably false. Why are you making this claim when there are only two, non-peer reviewed reports on TFA, both of which have been discredited by scholars?

Furthermore, given that TFA has been around for over 21 years, if they were so successful, shouldn’t there be dozens of peer-reviewed studies showing that success?

As there is no peer reviewed research on the program, this is in fact an experiment, as such, will you give notice to parents whose children will take place in your experiment, as is required by law?

If your answer is "no," are you in fact demanding that all families participate in your experiment, or will parents be allowed to place their children in classrooms with professional teachers?

2. Will you guarantee that TFA members will be equitably distributed across the district and not only placed in Title I schools, which would be in direct violation of the ongoing federal desegregation order re: Hereford v. Huntsville?

Furthermore, will you provide the media with the percentage of black teachers laid off and the percentage of white "new faces" replacing them, or will the media need to use the Freedom of Information Act to determine those figures?

3. I am aware of several alternative programs that have better retention rates than TFA. Did you solicit competing bids from these other organizations? If so, where are those bids, if not, why not?

4. Dr. Robinson claims the $5,000 per year is for professional development, but TFA claims the money must be used towards paying off college loans. Who is incorrect on this point? Are my tax dollars going to professional development, or am I paying off other people's debt because quite frankly, I have plenty of my own.

5. If, in two years, your 1.9 million dollar experiment on Huntsville's children has not produced "overwhelmingly positive results," will you hold yourselves accountable and resign?

For the record, what is your metric for determining "overwhelmingly positive results?"

6. Will you provide members of the media with the exact amount of money you have given to the Broad Foundation since Dr. Wardynski was hired, or will you make them use the Freedom of Information Act to determine to that figure?

7. Will you agree to stop outsourcing public education and to immediately end outside-of-district spending until the media has had time to determine, exactly, how much of our tax dollars you have given away?

by Russell Winn

Dr. Wardynski has been superintendent of Huntsville City Schools since July 5, 2011, or a just shy of five months. It’s been a busy five months for him.

Here’s a quick summary of the changes Dr. Wardynski has brought about in that time.

Classroom Sizes have increased along with a higher student to teacher ratio.

The Central Office staff, in particular the upper level of the central office, has increased.

The Special Education budget has been cut by $7 million dollars to pay for significant increases in the recruitment, selection and professional development of Teach for America teachers and various other of the superintendent’s personal goals.

Senior Administrative positions are slated to receive bonuses and have already received raises while teachers salaries are frozen and new teachers salaries are set at the state minimum.

Eli Broad Foundations Return on Investment is up to $2,310,000.

The Superintendent who doesn't want to close schools has now either closed, slated to close, relocated or merged nine schools without parental input, which is exactly the same amount of schools recommended for closure by the demographer’s report in June.

All job descriptions have been suspended allowing for personnel to be moved at will.

Funny, it would seem that he’s following the Broad Foundation’s game plan to the letter. In, How to tell if your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus, SueP of Seattleducation2011 suggests looking at a few of the following clues:

1. Schools in your district are suddenly closed.

2. Even top-performing schools, alternative and schools for the gifted, are inexplicably and suddenly targeted for closures or mergers.

3. Repetition of the phrases "the achievement gap" and "closing the achievement gap" in district documents and public statements.

4. Repeated use of the terms "excellence" and "best-practices" and "data-driven decisions." (Coupled with a noted absence of any of the above.)

5. Power is centralized.

6. Decision-making is top down.

7. Local autonomy of schools is taken away.

8. Principals are treated like pawns by the superintendent, relocated, rewarded and punished at will.

9. Culture of fear of reprisal develops in which teachers, principals, staff, even parents feel afraid to speak up against the policies of the district or the superintendent.

10. Ballooning of the central office at the same time superintendent makes painful cuts to schools and classrooms.

11. Sudden increase in the number of paid outside consultants.

12. Superintendent attempts to sidestep labor laws and union contracts.

13. Teachers are no longer referred to as people, educators, colleagues, staff or even "human resources," but as "human capital."

14. The district leadership declares that the single most significant problem in the district is suddenly: teachers!

15. Superintendent lays off teachers for questionable reasons.

16. Teach for America, Inc., novices are suddenly brought into the district, despite no shortage of fully qualified teachers.

17. The district hires a number of "Broad Residents" at about $90,000 apiece, also trained by the Broad Foundation, who are placed in strategically important positions like overseeing the test that is used to evaluate teachers or school report cards. They in turn provide -- or fabricate -- data that support the superintendent’s ed reform agenda (factual accuracy not required).

18. Superintendent behaves as if s/he is beyond reproach.

19. The superintendent receives the highest salary ever paid to a superintendent in your tow'’s history (plus benefits and car allowance) -- possibly more than your mayor or governor -- and the community is told "that is the national, competitive rate for a city of this size."

20. Your school board starts to show signs of Stockholm Syndrome. They vote in lockstep with the superintendent. Apparently lobotomized by periodic "school board retreat/Broad training" sessions headed by someone from Broad, your school board stops listening to parents and starts to treat them as the enemy. (If you still have a school board, that is — Broad ideally prefers no pesky democratically elected representatives to get in the way of their superintendents and agendas.)

There's more, but I think this is sufficient to communicate the point. If you’d like to read the entire list, you may do so here

As I said, Dr. Wardynski has been busy in the past five months. Kinda makes you wonder exactly what's in store in the future. If this is the type of "future leaders" that Broad Foundation supported programs like Teach for America produces, I would much prefer that they go on about their chosen careers and leave education to those who have committed their lives to it.

— Russell Winn/Geek Palaver
Geek Palaver





This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.