October 7, 2013
Perry Schools Superintendent Jonathan Jett recently offered a rebuttal on this page and in many Perry homes, attempting to explain away the penalties levied on him by the Professional Standards Board for his involvement in the 2009 ACT cheating scandal.
Logically, in a sane world the superintendent is expected to be the standard bearer who sets the bar for acceptable résumés, behaviors, and attitudes. Having said that, falsifying test scores, to which he pleaded, is congruent with corruption. That fact in itself morally disqualified Mr. Jett from consideration by either the search committee or the board.
Now that he is in the position, the folly of choosing him is apparent for all to see. It is extremely difficult to render judgment on others, with three fingers pointing back at one’s self, along with dealing with the innate human desire to be among one’s own kind. That obviously explains his willingness to overlook the failures of most of his new hires, along with his efforts to recreate functional leaders from the current central office personnel. That same principle explains why inmates are rarely delegated to run the asylum.
Drug addiction, criminal behavior, and a host of other social ills are never properly remedied until there is movement past the phase of denial. To Mr. Jett I would say: You are stuck in denial. You attempt to persuade us that the permanent conditions attached to your certification and to the terms of your employment don’t matter. You ridiculously state that if conflict exists between you and the board chairman, there are other means to satisfy the EPSB letter requirement. The agreed order doesn’t say that. I’m sure you are aware of that.
You attempt to persuade us that because criteria exists, it’s OK to promote a failed principal to a district-wide, high-paying post, not mentioning that you sit at the table when the criteria was established that qualifies or disqualifies individuals who apply for that post. It’s OK to insulate a failed principal whose apparent glaring flaw is an uncaring attitude and a poor work ethic other than in his own private, for-profit endeavors, clearly finding no association between job performance and the top income he receives from the Perry School district. It’s OK to promote and protect failed washouts, in the face of other qualified members who have sacrificed, worked, and paid for certifications to qualify for those positions.
Who are the ultimate victims? The child recipients of those services. The United States Armed Forces is the world’s greatest fighting force. They don’t do lateral transfers and promotions of incompetence. Instead, they discharge, or slot them into menial positions where they find a functional level. They understand promotions are to reward top performers who will advance the organization’s ability. We should adopt that.
What criteria ruled out other candidates for the Robinson principalship and the athletic director’s position? Both are good-paying jobs, both desperately needing solid, competent, caring people. There were other applicants for both positions — very good applicants with clean résumés, just asking for a chance. Your selections seem to indicate that criteria for both positions required the ability to drive a school off a cliff.
Finally, in reference to your communication recently published on this editorial page: It seems safe to conclude that you gave the order for school personnel, at district expense and on instructional time, to print, disperse, and send home by students a copy that same “letter to the editor,” offering your own defense and rebuttal to the recent critique of your hiring in this newspaper. I question the wisdom of your decision to do that. I also question the legality of the use of school resources, time, personnel, and the children, to lodge your rebuttal in the homes of district parents. This editorial page is an acceptable forum. A letter home on your time and dime is also quite acceptable. Use of district resources, involving the children, and using them as propaganda couriers for your purpose, is not at all acceptable. You may have accepted the counsel of fools.
There is no substitute for life experience. There is only one way to get it. That’s why more elderly, experienced, individuals are generally far more effective in the seat you currently occupy. Respectfully spoken, you need to know that your response generally, and your characterization of the critique as “angry, hostile, journalistic bullying,” demonstrate a level of dishonesty, naivete, and amateurism that, I daresay, is quite apparent to most objective-minded readers.
Lost Creek, Ky.