The Tucson Community- 13th Open Letter
From: Whistleblowers– Comprised of Extremely Concerned TUSD Administrators, Teachers, and Parents
Subject: Heliodoro Torres Sanchez’ Strategic Maneuvers in Distortion and Manipulation- Caught in Action with his Pantalones Down on Video
The Hurtful Disgraceful Performance of Some within our Education Professions During the 9/8/15 Board Meeting
We are not a superstitious group but believe that this 13th letter will reflect on actions taken by so-called TUSD “leadership” that will bring about more harm and misfortune to the institution. Of course, we wish no harm upon OUR school District and OUR schools but, all behavior has consequences, as we often inform our students/children. TUSD “leadership” keeps banging on disaster’s door, and disaster inevitably answers. Once disaster responds, TUSD incessantly asserts pure innocence and asks for support and sympathy from its schools and their communities. Without the facts- many are duped. Do not be fooled and please share this with family and friends so that they too know better than to fall for TUSD’s propaganda as more is shoved our way.
The unconscionable behavior of HT Sanchez during the 9/8 board meeting has placed TUSD in a position which is shameful and disruptive to our community. The District’s biggest fear-filled bully- HT Sanchez- convinced and directed several principals and teacher peers to model his hostile, accusatory and insulting attacking behavior, while addressing two issues: demagnetizing magnet schools and the teacher performance evaluation. Sanchez strategically maneuvered a public oral assault on the Arizona District Federal Court Appointed Special Master, who reports directly to the court. The attack on the Special Master took on a personal and emotional tone and is a continued attack on the desegregation court order- the Unitary Status Plan (USP). Regardless of the geographical location of our schools, each of us have come to learn the importance of the desegregation order. We are spread across the span of the District- west to east and north to south.
We should say that we now have several volunteers in our group who devote hours, if not days, to researching topics we address in our letters. As a result, we have extensive information on topics that we write about, including both the teacher evaluation issue and status of the magnet schools. Representation within our group includes individuals involved in magnet schools either as employees or as parents. Thus, our reference points originate from both our research and our intimate involvement with the schools.
Our 13th letter deals primarily with the magnet school issue, however, two paragraphs on the teacher evaluation matter follow:
Teachers who need improvement in their instructional approach have mostly been left out in the cold to deal with their needs on their own. For years, the District has not had a workable system to deal with this problem. The District has done little to support the identification of these teachers, much less provide the needed support. Struggling and mediocre teachers who could and should be excellent teachers have simply not been encouraged or supported to attain excellence. Mediocre is good enough in TUSD. This group of teachers deserves support as do their administrators.
Another group of teachers, one that no one likes surfacing, are teachers who have been identified as being truly detrimental to students. Most are not being held accountable. One teacher we all know of has been reported as making overtly racist comments to his students on a repeated basis. The teacher is said to be untouchable and “Union protected”, which is gibberish. Without drastically reforming the current status-quo teacher evaluation system, bad apples will continue to drag the bright stars down and will continue to hurt students. One idea is to have an external evaluator evaluate teachers, along with the principal, which would provide a wider view of performance to consider in examining teacher performance. For this, the Special Master is being attacked.
TEA, which had their “red-shirt” leadership folks at the board meeting- went on the Sanchez-led Special Master attack (as requested by Sanchez and/or Grijalva) and wants only principals to evaluate their teachers (their membership, however, is the lowest it has ever been and they represent drastically few teachers). ELI, made up of mostly principals also wants principals to exclusively evaluate teachers. They seem to feel that principals gain their power through evaluating teachers. None of this should be about power. Powerful principals are powerful because they are effective and can contend with sharing the evaluation of their teachers. The leading surveys which were sent out to teachers and principals were just that- leading; not scientific by any stretch of the imagination. If we are going to deal with teacher performance it cannot be by doing as has been done for decades. It does not work. Basically, Sanchez, TEA, ELI and the board majority want the status quo and no significant reform in the teacher evaluation process. As a result students are left with teachers who need support or who should not be in the classroom.
From the first time that Sanchez met with magnet principals and their communities, at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, he adamantly stated that he opposed the USP integration requirements and said that the requirements would be impossible to meet. Sanchez commenced his insults in the direction of the desegregation Plaintiffs and the Special Master at that point, which have since evolved into sharper and more disrespectful attacks. Sam Brown was saying the same thing as Sanchez at the noted meetings. Some of us were in the meetings and we heard their sentiments expressed.
As we have observed HT and others present information to the board on both issues, we have been shocked at the degree of misinformation that has been provided, as Sanchez is allowed to grandstand and turn the board room into a performance theater, rather than a room that evokes dignity and respect. Sanchez’ conduct is his standard modus operandi and there was no surprise in hearing his high pitched voice ramble into persuading lies to his gullible board majority. They play to the HT hysteria. However, we could not believe that instructional leaders transformed themselves into HT’s foot soldiers- taking up his assault on the Special Master and on desegregation itself, when they know that the court order is the only hope they have in salvaging their schools.
It is these very same principals who have shared with many that they and their schools are not supported by the superintendent and his administration; that they are not provided with their budgets; that their budgets are blindly “swept” through cuts of their Title I funding and desegregation dollars and/or by “freezing” staffing positions; that their schools and programs are in jeopardy due to the unfilled vacancies which remain vacant for months if not the entire school year year (three years in a row); and that in many ways they have been set up by their own school district to fail. These very same principals were instructed by the Sanchez administration NOT to consider INTEGRATION as an important influence in the implementation of their magnet plans but rather to focus on student achievement despite the fact that TUSD has been ordered by the court to meet their obligations under both prongs. Yes, and it was these same principals who have complained that the planning process for their individual magnet plans turned into a “cut and paste” process with the Magnet Department dictating the language that would be inserted into the cookie-cutter template. Some of these principals were furious to learn that from one proposed magnet plan to another, their budgets had been cut.
And, it was these same principals who received intimidating contact from Sanchez’ central administration that provided clear and explicit direction on how to deal with the Special Master during his visit to their individual schools last week. They were told to only briefly answer any questions that were asked; not to volunteer any information whatsoever; and not to put the District in a bad light.
Most of them had planned to share a great deal about their school’s challenges due to lack of support from 1010; most of them had many questions; and most of them modified their communication to conform to the threatening dictate they received.
Intimidation and desperation do strange things to people. Some show courage while others cower. Having been clearly directed to be tight-lipped with the Special Master, it was made very clear that the Special Master is regarded as the enemy by HT (he spews spit and vengeance when he speaks about him). The fury and frustration which they had penned up- based on TUSD’s lack of support for their schools, as well as the intimidating directive they received- all contributed to the misguided realignment of their passion and their anger became aimed at the Special Master (the court). All it took was one misleading, misinformed, misdirected dictate from Sanchez himself.
During the 9/8 board meeting we heard Sanchez say that he learned about the Special Master’s proposal to demagnetize several magnet schools at 8:30 on Friday morning (9/4) and that by 3:30 the same day he was meeting with the principals from the schools: Bonillas, Cholla, Ochoa, Pueblo (although Pueblo is not on the list), Safford, Roskruge and Utterback. They obviously received a dramatic and distorted description of what the Special Master had conveyed to Sanchez, along with a dictate from Sanchez on what each of them needed to do to save their schools, even though, the schools have NOT been supported by the current administration. Pueblo staff has shared with many that the Communications Arts Magnet lacks updated equipment, which has precluded them from building the program to the level needed to successfully recruit a diverse population to the magnet program in order to comply with the court order. They have requested equipment time and time again and have been denied. It was obvious that Sanchez’ foot soldiers went back to their schools and stirred up their staff members, as Sanchez had stirred them up. Many of the principals involved their faculty members in Sanchez’ assault. Several faculty members spoke during call to the audience and principals were made part of Sanchez’ dog and pony show.
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The issue at hand is that the 6 schools mentioned have not shown the required progress in integrating their schools (remember, an area that principals were told to essentially ignore and, also remember, Sanchez’ echoing chant that he disagrees with the integration requirements- which he uttered soon after his most unfortunate appointment as TUSD supt.). Sanchez and the principals believe they need more time to meet the requirements. WE AGREE but totally DISAGREE with the conflict-ridden strategy which Sanchez has instigated. It can only bring more harm to an already damaged school district. His tactics are divisive and dangerous and his board majority refuse to “get it”.
“Planning” to comply with the USP in the area of the magnet schools has been underway for almost three years, with the District continuously downplaying the importance of integration. Last April all of the magnet schools undertook a court-ordered process (see link below) to develop specific plans to improve their schools both in the area of integration and in academic achievement.
This was done without the provision of their budgets. And, again while the schools included activities to achieve integration, they were told to essentially ignore integration and to primarily deal with achievement.
Somewhere along the process, the schools were provided with last year’s budget (something they had not seen before) but were not given any parameters or formulas on how to develop their budgets for 2015-16. A variation of individual plans were drafted and redrafted, all of which were submitted to central administration. The final plans were then “amended” by central administration. In almost all cases, the initial budget included in the individual magnet schools was cut. We examined the 1st version that was submitted to the court against the final version that was submitted and the cuts reached as high as $200,000. How does this show support for the magnet schools? We are also aware of staff shortages/vacancies at many of the magnets; some to the point of making the school non-functional! How does this exemplify support for the magnet schools?
Sanchez’ ego runs him and the school District. Sanchez wants to- at all cost– be seen as the hero, the leader, the chess game champ and he understands better than anyone that his neglect of the magnet schools (or maybe only certain magnets) has caught up with him. He was caught with his pantalones down around his knees when the Special Master’s recommendations were shared with him last Friday morning. He was about to be exposed for more of his failures in implementing the desegregation order. So, Sanchez, immediately plotted out a scheme to preempt the Special Master. He made the Special Master the point of contention which deflected all Sanchez’ failings in serving the magnet schools.
Everyone understands that Sanchez is a bully (not a hero), that he is a weak self-serving and dishonest superintendent (not a leader) and that he is quickly losing the chess game in desegregation (as he refers to in dealing with the court, the Special Master, the Plaintiffs, their representatives and their attorneys).
His scheme includes stirring up the communities at each of the 6 schools in order to incite anger against the Special Master and the court. The foot soldiers (principals) who showed up at the board meeting, clearly rehearsed, clearly angered, and clearly MISINFORMED are a great disappointment. They do care about their schools and communities but soul-selling is no way to show their concern. Their courage and integrity evaporated. They did not exhibit critical thinking skills. They did not do their homework. They went along- to-get-along. They fell in. They demonstrated weak submission.
The day following the board meeting the following “infomercial” appeared on the TUSD website:
As you will see as you watch the video, almost all of the principals started their performance with “I am the proud principal of ………..” Hum? Coincidence? We think not. It all looks, feels and sounds rehearsed- all directed by HT.
We call upon the 7 principals to examine their actions and to alter their tactics and not go the way of Sanchez. We ask that they stop knocking on disaster’s door. They can advocate for their schools by telling the TRUTH. It is not necessary for them to become Sanchez’ front-line in a war of lies against the Special Master, the court, the plaintiffs and, in general, desegregation. The magnet schools have not been supported. Everyone knows it. We ask the 7 principals to allow Sanchez to stand before the world with his pantalones around his knees. He is the one who dropped them.
Remember TUSD Board Member Terms END
The terms for Krystal Foster and Cam Juarez end in 2016 UNLESS they are re-elected. Justifiably, their terms should end- sooner than later.
Thanks to all who have helped us spread our letters: Three Sonorans, Arizona Daily Independent, Tucson Weekly. All of our letters may be found on Three Sonorans.