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Opinion | A request to Dr. Eric Mackey

Glenn Henry

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Dear Dr. Eric Mackey, respectfully, just writing to see if you would take an immediate look at the Montgomery County Public School System. Although this system is under state intervention, it appears as though realistic significant improvements and further proven progress, are not being realized.

Groupthink is defined a psychological phenomenon that occurs with a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in irrational and dysfunctional outcomes. The dysfunctional group dynamic produces an inflated certainty the right decisions have been made. Further, the group significantly overrates its own abilities or its accomplishments and provides ultimate goal puffing in decision making.

More specifically, with the school year ending next month, respectfully, it is imperative that you meet with MPS to preclude more excuses being provided concerning the next school year to ensure that numerous and pending critical tasks are accomplished very soon.

For instance, over numerous years, student enrollment continues to rapidly decline, and MPS leaders are projecting the image of dragging their heels and being placed in a straight jacket by exhibiting no movement in the right direction.

The same schools are open. Some schools are rumored to be at around 50 percent occupancy. Many administrative school building facilities are still in operation. Top-heavy administrators are still in place.

Numerous parents have decided to place their kids in private, religion, charter schools or home schooling.

Although all of these changes are occurring, no schools have been closed or consolidated. None of the excessive administrative buildings have been consolidated or shuttered. Cuts in personnel have not been implemented. Projections of teachers and administrators leaving or retiring still have not been addressed.

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Last year, during this same time period, the MPS leaders provided the public with numerous excuses. Most notably, they didn’t have the time to do the aforementioned items that needed to be accomplished.

This week, numerous MPS board members and top school officials devised another bright idea by placing on their meeting agenda and by stating in the news media that a tax consultant or tax attorney is needed to attempt to persuade the public to vote for a property ad valorem tax increase.

There is no need for increased taxes, if MPS would implement the schools and administrative building closings and consolidations; along with personnel cuts based on the current accurate student populations. These right actions would provide a budget surplus.

The real reasons for MPS’ inaction concerning these tasks, are to make it appear as though property tax hikes are needed, when increases are not required. What’s needed are outstanding leadership and exceptional management from top MPS officials and board members.

Let’s not forget, the U.S. Department of Education and the public are questioning the 20 percent increase in scores by special education students. If that is not enough, the citizenry is seeing more color codes from the Advanced Ed accreditation agency, which some have been deemed suspect. Further, letter grades have been provided by ALSDE. No one can measure or calculate colors and letters. Some within the communities are stating that MPS has no more improved than the man in the moon.

Along with groupthink, there appears to be a lot of people within MPS who are working themselves overtime with a skewed sense of thinking, to arrive at unrealistic positive outcomes. They can’t get there from here. Some are attempting to rush a process that will look good on the Power Point slides, however, no real progress has been accomplished. This identifies a serious lack of core values.

We all know that Advanced Ed will be back within the district very soon to decide the issue of accreditation status. If the status is awarded, this would not be something to boast about. This only basically means that the school doors remain open. Most schools outside the district have that designation. Our goals must far exceed earning a basic accreditation status.

Respectfully, request to gain trust from the public that accurate and reliable numbers be provided, through all levels of the education system. Additionally, the sources of information gathering be provided to the public; along with the weights of the various factors measured, be given so all data may be verified through acceptable, recognized rudiments and functions of math and principles and practices of accounting.

A major problem is that when inaccurate and unreliable data are being manufactured. No one can truly measure the good or bad concerning the school district. Along those same lines, the proper issues can’t be properly responded to, handled, addressed or remedied.

New math is unacceptable; being those functions, expressions, formulas and explanations that mankind has never before seen nor witnessed.

Respectfully, since the MPS leadership will not set proper deadlines or subject-matter item suspense dates; please provide them with final deadline dates to have the aforementioned items accomplished. If the dates are missed, provide them with your final decision and further direction.

To those persons who have only one answer, that we need more money, anyone can say and do that. Please remove them from their positions. Place someone in the positions who can perform these critical duties.

Finally, although MPS is under state intervention and there are ALSDE staff members on board. I don’t see leadership and management needed to guide the followers to do the right things. There still appears to be a major problem with division of labor, span of control, economies of scale, accountabilities, responsibilities, authorities and decision making within MPS.

The current MPS chain of command and line of authority are maligned due to the ALSDE on site officials appearing to perform in a lateral, co-equal or follower-ship role. The ALSDE officials, MPS superintendent and school board members seem to be operating within a flat organizational structure.

All are followers. Someone needs to lead. I guess that’s why school buses have one steering wheel — not 10. Dr. Mackey, if you don’t lead them, who will? The citizenry needs some hope and some semblance of leadership and management.


Glenn Henry is retired from the U.S. Air Force. He has been a high school teacher and university adjunct professor. He is a Certified Professional Ethical Hacker. He lives in Montgomery with his wife Teresa.

 

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