June 25, 2008

Niagara-Wheatfield Superintendent

In today's Niagara Gazette, there is a nice fluff piece about the new Superintendent of Niagara-Wheatfield schools, Carl Militello. It goes on about their exhaustive search, and Militello cites "having schools go from being designated by the state Education Department as “at risk,” or in need of improvement, to being named high-performing" among his accomplishments.

Unfortunately for the residents of the district, we're not sure they're getting the entire story on Mr. Militello.

A friend of mine who lives in the Carthage district that Militello is coming to NW from had this to say about him: "He is very controversial, almost starting a revolution in Carthage over budgeting, his out of district residence and taxes. He's heading to Niagara County after voter revolt."

This is a piece that appears in the Watertown Daily Times related to the hiring of Mr. Militello and his tenure at Carthage.

The Watertown paper states that "Mr. Militello, who was hired in Carthage in July 2006 after spending six years as superintendent in Dunkirk, has recently come under fire by community members and municipal officials in the district for cutting jobs while increasing taxes."
Also under Militello's leadership, "voters voiced their displeasure with the district on May 20 when they voted down the 2008-09 budget 1,849 to 294 on May 20 and forced all three incumbent board members out of their seats."

So after an exhaustive search, including 25 candidates, we're going to hire the one with an extremely controversial record of cutting jobs while raising taxes? Are these the attributes we're looking for in our school administrators these days?

And as for the Gazette, is it your policy to take someones press release verbatim and pass it off as news? A couple phone calls would have alerted you to the controversy surrounding this guy.

Maybe we can just put all of this behind us. Maybe Mr. Militello will come to Niagara Wheatfield looking for a fresh start; looking to learn from the mistakes he's made in the past. Then again...

19 comments:

Truth Detector said...

If only those darned computers at the Gazette had that newfangled internet-thing that would allow you, what is the term, smoogle, loogle...google, yeah google, a person to check what has been published about them, then maybe we'd all have gotten the real story rather than the puff piece.

Anonymous said...

Gazette sucks.

Fawn Leibowitz said...

This guy sounds like a real winner, cutting jobs and raising taxes. Something tells me he and Vecchiarella will get along just fine.

Larry Castellani said...

What sucks is institutionalized learning that has departmentalized ‘thinking’ and concrete, relevant experience out of existence. What sucks is sucking the value dimension(ethics, politics, religion, real sex education, concrete economics, etc.) out of education and replacing it with an ideology of factualism that has dumbed down any educational experience worth the salt. What sucks are administrators who couldn’t find a classroom if it came up and bit them on the neck. Turn the schools over to the teachers and remove the hyper-costly administrative parasites, specialists, counselors, etc. that have created a bureaucratic, technocratic cancer on education. Integrate education with the community, with ourselves. …

Witness the nightmarish fiasco which is No Child Left Behind! You want to reduce school taxes, then help create a culture of learning in the schools that actually relates to real life and then we could eliminate all these pseudo-technical toys, program-packages, and their concomitant specialists who pretend that they can substitute for an autonomous, organic culture of learning and then “engineer” achievement. In short, return the passion and inspiration to the classroom. It’s about the kids, not about absurd dumbed-down textbooks, grades, achievement and methodologies meant to revive a dead patient.

Education today has been reduced to a virtual therapeutic remediation of an impossible situation. Education is not therapy. The drop out rate is no surprise. The boredom and disillusionment rate is even higher, but also no surprise. Get rid of the educational “priests” and “therapists.”

Even successful students are mostly automatons good at rote memory and imitating formulas that they can reproduce on cue.

As Maria Montessori said, “The aim of education is life, not the preparation for life.” In our schools, its preparation for the tests.

Socrates: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

Lecture over. Thanks for listening. Class dismissed.

fat tony said...

Larry nails it. I'm tired of my tax dollars funding the flavor of the month in educational theory where unsophisticated school board members are duped by double dealing superintendnets into purchasing the latest craze in educational programming (probably with a nice little kickback to the super)only to see it replaced by the next craze some time later.

Let teachers teach. Let students learn. And stop the nonsense that is making our kids drones to the test.

winston man said...

They should have hired Dr. Mills, the old Newfane Super. He was great. (sarcasm)

Richard Strongbridge, Ph.D said...

Hey, the City of Buffalo hired a completely controversial Superintendent and look how that worked out.....The teachers union hates the administration, the administration hates the union; the students can't use cell phones and get 8 weeks off but they can punch/push a teacher and get 3 days off; principals have the power of Roman Emperors; and the school baord has never been closer (to complete disaster).

Oh yeah, and test scores went from totally in the shitter to, well still in the shitter, just not as messy.

Beyond that though, the hiring of a controversial Super has never worked out better.

Anonymous said...

Any superintendent in Buffalo will fail as long as Phil Rumore is head of the teacher's union. He has a proven track record of success (successfully screwing students and taxpayers.)

Anonymous said...

Rumore is perfect for his position. He fights for the teachers, regardless of the impact on taxpayers. Unfortunately, NYSUT is the most powerful lobby in the state, and that's saying something.

pirate's code said...

Education is much like politics -- we get the government we deserve. Pundits have, for years, lamented the lack of involvement or even interest in government by so-called average citizens, witnessed by general declines in voter participation in all but rare instances.

I suggest that such apathy is even greater (worse?) when discussing education. Who, really, do we elect to represent us on school boards? In my home district, voter turnout goes up when there is a controversial budget, but I suspect most of my neigbors and family members haven't the foggiest idea of the platforms, plans or ideas of most of the candidates for the board.

In my role as profound cynic, I have come to believe that for every well-intentioned school board member who wants to provide the best possible education for our kids at the greatest value to those who pay for it, we have three board members who have some vested interest -- I must maintain some special program for my kid; my nieces are all teachers and my neigbor is the union leader; gee, our football team sucks and maybe from the inside I can get us a new coach.

As a result, we end up with boards generally lacking in the knowledge to set a strategic direction, or challenge a powerful superintendent who wants to import the flavor-of-the-month program, or an AD who wants yet another re-do of the athletic complex, and so on.

And, as a result, the teacher's unions take on even greater power than they otherwise might. Not that they should have no voice, but they shouldn't be the only voice.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no clear path to separating teaching from the business of teaching. Labor-management issues, rising taxes, and diminished services overshadow what goes on -- or should be going on -- in the classroom.

On this issue, I tend to agree with the good professor, Larry.

Now that I've typed that, there is some Valium with my name on it around here somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Well there is a positive side he should compliment Vince Vecchiarella in North Tonawanda. Look out Niagara County this bad virus is spreading, Buffalo, North Tonawanda and now Niagara Wheatfield. Who's next Starpoint or Lewiston Porter. Go get 'em Lilley.

Anonymous said...

You can have him, just don't try to send him back. Has anyone thought to question why this clown has had 4 positions in 7 years? See ya, Carl, it's been.....well, let's just say it's been good dirty fun. Have a good time N-W, don't say you weren't warned!

Anonymous said...

Looks like several comments have been made that there are Superintendents in local districts that are not performing to the expectations of the residents. If this is the case the real blame should be placed on the weak board members that allow this to continue without advising them that they report to the board that was elected by the taxpayers their boss. I will be interested to see if this is addressed by new board members who were recently elected especially in NT with Vecchiarella who has been pushing his board around since he was hired. From what has been rumored not only has he been tearing the district apart internally but while being successful at it demanding his contract be extended with a pay increase. Hopefully this will start to end with the recent election of 3 new board members (Robertson, Carney and
DiBernardo) and the ouster of 2 weak board members (Guido and Rechin)that allowed the Superintendent to conduct himself in an unprofessional manner.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Vince because of his close relationship with Mayor Soos has been attending training sessions conducted by Dan Rivera that teach those participating how to deal with the public in a ignorant mannner. I'm sure he feels that if Soos can do it as the Mayor of the city it must be OK for the School District Superintendent to do it also. Remember people conduct themselves based on examples and with Vince not originally being from NT and Larry living his whole life there and demonstrating his lack of public respect gives an outsider the impression this is what the public likes and wants.

Anonymous said...

The Niagara-Wheatfield School Board under Kaus and retiring Superintendent Howard love tax increases and high dollar payouts.

So what else would their replacement search find?

Anonymous said...

um, i'm guessing no one saw this then?: http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/local_story_177222329.html

especially when you compare the buffalo news pitiful coverage? i barely even bother with the buffalo news anymore. looks like the gazette did a standard two-parter on this new guy where they got the introduction piece out of the way before slamming him.

Anonymous said...

okay, my link in the previous post didn't work. let's try this again: the gazette did actually write about this guy's past the next day

Anonymous said...

Forget Carthage! This man has been a disaster everywhere he has been.

Anonymous said...

Well let's not forget about Glatz and Burruano who were brought in by Henry Wojtaszek to beat Schultz and Wasieczko, if I recall the Superintendent received a unanimous vote to and increase in his salary and all his health insurance paid for. The only difference is Wojtaszek will use the superintendent instead of vise versa with Rivera.