JPEF’s one on one conference misses the mark

First let me say the conference was very impressive. There were hundreds of enthusiastic participants and dozens and dozens of dedicated volunteers plus the roast beef sandwich they served me was delicious. The level of coordination for the event was indeed impressive. Despite all that I still can’t help feel it missed the mark.

A large portion of the morning session was basically a pep rally for the district where Superintendent Vitti talked about a lot of the amazing things going on, did anybody know we were the top district in the state for energy efficiency? This is also where I had my problem.

The five hundred people didn’t come there to for a pep rally, they came there because they wanted to help the district find solutions for our problems which Vitti made seem were far and few between. That sadly is not the case, the superintendent did acknowledge problems in ESE though that didn’t stop him from promoting the last ESE director Mason Davis, but everywhere else we came up aces. after Vitti was finished I was ready to go home, problem solved right, what do you need me here for.

The biggest fail was they asked all the participants sitting at 41 different tables to answer, what is the district doing well, or something to the equivalent. For the first three minutes the group I was with, we just stared at each other. This is really a shame because it was here the conference could have done the most good.

Instead of asking some off topic question they should have said, tables 1-5 how do we improve teacher morale, 6-10 improve teacher retention, tables 11-15 getting the good word out about what’s happening in our schools, tables 16-20, how do we recruit more mentors, 21-25 how do we stop our schools in the middle, not on the poor side of town and not on the rich, from sliding backwards, 26-30 how do we get the legislature to tackle our legislative priorities, 31-35 how do we get more of the community involved and so on. You know, have the audience many of who are the cities movers and shakers tackle the real problems the district has.

Instead basically superintendent Vitti led a pep rally.

The old regime too whenever they would meet in public would read off a litany of impressive statistics some of which like Vitti’s I questioned and they would always finish with and we’re a B district, something Vitti can’t say as we slipped to a C when he got there and have remained there ever since (and yes I hate the accountability system and think it is ridiculous but unfortunately it is the system we have). This is both wrong and dangerous, we have serious problems and the one on one conference was a perfect place to get the community to tackle them, but instead it fumbled the ball.

In my opinion, despite the delicious sandwich, the day was a missed opportunity.

If anybody has a different perspective I would love to hear it.

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