February 3, 2010

Why We Just Can’t Take Niagara Falls Seriously

Sometimes, an article like one in today’s Niagara Gazette just makes us repeatedly smack our forehead, roll our eyes, and debate whether to laugh or cry.

It seems that, and here, we’re going to just quote the Gazette verbatim, “According to a representative from the state Education Department, Mia Bianco, daughter of district Superintendent Cynthia Bianco, has been employed since August 2002 without meeting state teacher certification requirements.”

Now, that in itself is bad enough, but this paragraph compounds the stupidity: “District Superintendent Cynthia Bianco said the issue surrounding her daughter was an oversight and that she was fully qualified to work in her capacity with the district.”

Uh, an eight-year oversight? Really? You mean to tell us that the district superintendent doesn’t know the state requirements for district employees and doesn’t know whether her own daughter meets those guidelines?

Okay, either Bianco is a really bad superintendent who doesn’t know the rules that apply to her own educational staff, or she wants us to believe she has no idea about her own daughter’s educational attainment. Neither is a comforting prospect. One is incompetence, the other, well, we’ll let our readers choose whatever word they’re most comfortable with.

We always shied away from criticism of Niagara Falls Superintendent Carm Granto, even though his hiring practices, which amounted to turning an entire school system into a friends and family jobs program, were repugnant. We didn’t shed tears when he went down for his lax accounting practices, but we didn’t pile on, because, frankly, Granto probably did about as good a job as anyone could, given the inherent problems of the Falls District.

But his legacy is that, like something out of a bad Third World banana republic, his own sister took over the district when he left in disgrace. And she then, apparently, decided that the rules only apply to other people—not members in good standing of the friends and family program.

Yesterday, we read that the Niagara Falls School District was aggressively pursuing several more employees who violated the district’s residency rules, and we generally applaud that action. However, if the choice is competent employees who actually meet the criteria to teach, but live outside the district, or unqualified friends and family who happen to live on the right side of a line on a map, we’ll take the former.

No comments: