Last Thursday at a public rally of about 100 teachers, the United Teachers of Santa Clara, declared a vote of “no confidence” in Superintendent Stan Rose and the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees, and demanded the resignation of Trustee Ina Bendis. A similar petition by parents was presented about a year ago, with no effect.
The teachers’ complaints include what they perceive as a general lack of respect for teachers on the part of the administration and some board members, feeling that they are cut out of important educational and program decisions, antagonistic contract negotiations despite a $20 million windfall for the district this year, and inappropriate micromanagement from the board – specifically Bendis – that makes it difficult for them to do their jobs.
None of this is new. And, that’s what upsets the teachers. They’ve been complaining about the same things ever since last year, when there was an exodus of almost the entire district administration, roughly 15 principals, and over 30 teachers.
Rose, said UTSC President Michael Hickey, “has been there but not there” when it counted. Bendis, he said, “has demonstrated that she’s the poison on the board. Emails that were received through a freedom of information act request, demonstrated her inability to keep from micromanaging the district.”
“It’s apparent she has an agenda for the district and she’s bullying the administration,” he continued. “And, the Superintendent doesn’t have the strength stand up to her. Why aren’t they [the administration] getting out to know the district? With the micromanagement from the board, they [the administration] don’t have time. It’s up to the board to set priorities appropriately and push back.”
“The Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent [Tanya Fisher], in my opinion, are incompetent,” said biology teacher Eric Wozadlo. “They’re not doing their jobs effectively.”
How has that affected the classroom? “We’re unable to properly schedule classes for next year because Tanya Fisher hasn’t decided if she’s going to pull teachers for special assignments or not.” Regarding Bendis, he said, “She’s not allowing decisions to be made.”
Later that evening, it seemed like Rose was making the same point, noting that he was so deluged with demands for information and questions from board members that required lengthy answers, that he had virtually no time to do his job.
The district’s use of consultants is also rankling teachers. “If they [the administration] need to hire consultants to do the work,” said Hickey, “Why aren’t they hiring these professionals?”