2014-05-23 / Letters

Teacher should be passed over

To the editor:

I wish I could say I am surprised that the uproar has not been more deafening over the South Portland School Board’s proposal to swap Small Elementary’s successful principal, Bonnie Hicks, with Kaler Elementary’s perennial failure, Diane Lang. However, this sort of thing has sadly become par for the course in the public education system.

Under Lang’s so called leadership, Kaler Elementary has the seventh-lowest scores in the state. South Portland is the fourth most populous city in Maine and we have the resources to do better than that. Are we going to continue to spend a small fortune in these schools for these kinds of results? This would never fly in the private sector. If the CEO of a company presided over year after year of dramatic failure to meet standards, the company’s board would fire him or her. Why should the public sector be any different?

How long are we the people of Maine going to continue writing paychecks for people like Diane Lang, who has a demonstrated track record of failure? It is precisely this unwillingness to reward success and punish failure that is leading our public school system into the educational dregs of a nation that is itself seemingly in a race to the bottom. Imagine you had a great doctor you loved. Now imagine that your medical provider replaced your doctor with a new doctor that had consistently received failing grades from the medical review board. Claims by your provider that the failing doctor only needed a change of scenery would likely be of little comfort to you as you put your life in the hands of a doctor with a record of failure. The unsigned email critical of Lang quoted in the May 16 article is a bellwether of the public’s ongoing inability to separate a person’s performance from their personality. I do not know Ms. Lang personally, and it is quite likely that she is a perfectly lovely person with a lot of great qualities. Regardless, a public sector employee with a demonstrated track record of failure should be terminated, or at the very least demoted. If anyone in this scenario deserves our sympathy it is the parents of the students at Small Elementary.

Devin T. Robinson
South Portland

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