RESIGNS PENNA. STATE DEPARTMENT POSITION
IN THE FACE OF INCOMPETENT POLITICAL MEDDLING
Below is a copy of his letter of resignation.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
333 MARKET STREET
HARRISBURG, PA 17126-0333
April 13, 2009
Theresa Barnaby, Director
Bureau of School Leadership
Pa. Department of Education
333 Market Street Harrisburg, Pa 17126-0333
Dear Ms. Barnaby,
This letter is to inform you of my resignation from my Higher Education Associate II position in the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality in the Department of Education. My official retirement date will be Saturday, April 25, 2009, with my last date of employment being Friday, April 24, 2009.
I began my career in state government during Governor Thornburgh's administration and have survived eight years of Governor Casey, eight years of Governor Ridge, and six plus years of Governor Rendell. I had hoped to end my career at the conclusion of the present administration but the circumstances which I have had to endure since November 21, 2001 when Marjorie Blaze was assigned the position of Chief of the Division of Teacher Education have slowly worn my spirit down. These circumstances were exacerbated in March of 2008 when Christina Baumer was appointed Chief of the Division of Professional Education. These two very distinct personalities had at least three things in common: 1) they had no educational or experiential background in the field that they were appointed to the highest civil service position, 2) they had a willingness to do whatever they were told to please the political hacks that appointed them, and 3) they lacked the knowledge and skills needed to command the respect of their staff and the professional education community that we serve. (Working with the two of them could wear anyone's spirit down.)
During the 16 years that I have served as a liaison in the Bureau, I have had the opportunity to work with some tremendously creative and intellectually vibrant people across the Commonwealth and around the country. I had the opportunity to develop a program approval system that was aligned with the national accreditation process and develop program guidelines that were derived from the Praxis exams and the national professional associations. The process engaged peers in the professional education community in a third party verification review based on the mutual respect of the institution, the review team and the Department. For three terms, 9 years, I was able to serve on national accreditation teams in 15 states from Alaska to Georgia and Vermont to California. I was selected to chair joint national/state teams in Rhode Island, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. I share all of that to say it has been a blessing and an honor to have had a job that was in so many ways a labor of love and for that I am forever grateful and humbled.
Despite my love for my work, this past year has been particularly difficult because of the political posturing of the Department which I have come to see as nothing short of "bullying" and a contemporary reenactment of the play The Emperor's New Clothes. In the winter of 2005, my former chief appointed a newly hired employee, who had no background in professional education, to take the lead in developing new program approval guidelines for Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Special Education. Almost four years and five bureau directors later, those guidelines turned into the "Frameworks" that serve as Act I of the play. In the last six months we have witnessed Act II -the electronic application that pretended to make sense of the Frameworks; Act III – the on-going efforts of the institutions that have been bullied into perverting the academic integrity of their institutions in order to create "programs" that reflect the hundreds of so-called competencies in the frameworks; Act IV – the development of "Tracker Findings" forms for "content reviewers" to pretend that they understand the presentation of the programs; Act V – the "national experts" pretending to "train" the content reviewers to make judgments about applications and finding forms that are only used in PA.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, March 31, 2009, I found myself standing in front of the 4-8 reviewers. The "national expert" who was supposed to be conducting the training was positioned as close to the exit as humanly possible without blocking it. The Chief of the Division of Professional Education was as close to the rear of the group as possible. And there I was, in the final scene of Act V, standing in the front explaining to people about searching and sampling "red, green and yellow" codes and pretending that their confusion would go away once they started writing. That moment combined with the unsatisfactory/needs improvement Employee Performance Rating dated March 16, 2009, which was the lowest of my 28 year career shouted out "It's time."
I thought I could stay for Act VI – compiling the findings from the reviewers and pretending that people so poorly trained could review documents so poorly compiled and make informed judgments and Act VII – contacting the institutions and pretending that after "careful consideration..." but in looking in the mirror and reading the constant barrage of e-mails from the chief, I know "it's time." Giving up my life in 14 day segments in order to reduce my early retirement penalty is offensive to the Giver of my life who has blessed me with great health and a career more bountiful than I would have ever imagined. For that I am eternally grateful. My fear of the coming encore presentations featuring the requirements for the Accelerated Programs, Postbaccalaureate programs, School Nurse, School Counselor, School Principal/Superintendent, ASL, ESL, Adaptations and Accommodations for Secondary and K-12 programs tells me "it's time." Everyone that has been involved has walked away a little less because of their efforts.
In leaving on April 24, 2009 and entering the SERS on Saturday, April 25, 2009 I'm looking forward to working with the institutions in gathering whatever forces can be brought together to bring the play to a halt. Too much energy has been wasted and too many promising careers altered by the willingness of a few political interlopers to alter the landscape of professional education by pretending. It's time!
Program Approval Coordinator
Higher Education Associate IIS