Superintendent Anthony Amato resigned last night after weeks of pressure from the Kansas City School Board.
Rather than write some overzealous polemic, it's important to put the news in perspective.
This is par for the course from The Kansas City School Board.
First I'd like to give a modicum of attention to concerns that were raised against Amato and answer them:
1. Some of the programs Amato tried out were pricey. Raising this issue against the guy once again demonstrates the hypocrisy and arrogance of the School Board considering that over the years this town has thrown away BILLIONS to no avail on one failed school program after the next. From "magnet schools" to fencing coaches to African drum classes the district has presided over so many failures. I like Ladysmith Black Mambazo just as much as anybody else, but there's no hard evidence that listening to it improves test scores.
2. Amato, supposedly, had a brash style. This was just propaganda. Amato actually seemed soft spoken the few times that I met him. Still, I invite anyone to go to a school board meeting and check out the culture and brashness of that group . . . Adopting to that "culture" would be a difficult task for anyone. I wouldn't deny that Amato had trouble getting along with his board, but I wouldn't fault him for it either. It's just disappointing that his attitude was always the topic of discussion and not the fact that he was making progress in slightly improving test scores.
3. Amato, allegedly, called two School Board Members bitches. - This is a tough one for me because I actually don't think there's any place for derogatory language in the office (It belongs on blogs). Just like Gloria Squitiro's "Mammy" comment, if the allegations were proven true then Amato deserved to be reprimanded. However, nobody went to the trouble to provide evidence of the allegations. Unlike Mammy-gate the slur allegedly didn't occur face to face, and I think it's appropriate to call the entire school board a bunch of beyotches considering how many BILLIONS of dollars they have wasted.
But the pressure for Amato to leave wasn't about facts or really anything he ever said. And I don't necessarily agree with the resignation, it make sense from a career standpoint but I've never liked quitters. Normally, this is the part of the post where I would assign blame to "the Black Middle Class," "The Black Power Structure" or note that the Kansas City School District is basically a "Black Middle-Class Employment Agency" And I don't really disagree with any of those statements but that's language intended to incite and inspire (Believe in your dreams!!!) and not the crux of the discussion today.
Unfortunately, the facts in this circumstance are monetary rather than racially inflammatory. Amato is out because he messed with the wrong people's money. A bounty was placed on his head when he cut funding for the LINC program. Even worse, if local reporters do their research they might uncover that Amato canceled a bunch of lucrative consulting contracts held by some of the same outspoken critics against him.
Still, none of this inspires me to get really worked up. This is business as usual for the School Board. New elections aren't going to help, new School Board members think they're going to make a difference but they aren't and any righteous indignation would be wasted.
Some people have experience in a situation like this and others don't . . . Essentially, the Kansas City School District is like a skank that a decent guy shouldn't dare to date or try to change. Think Pretty Woman or Hillary Clinton. The District has chosen it's lifestyle, it will have to deal with the consequences and anybody who gets involved will suffer the same fate. With BILLIONS wasted, an incomprehensible string of decisions to date and a slew of silly statements the district is comparable to Kansas City's Paris Hilton . . .
Her lifestyle is NEVER really gonna change and the day when she (the District) is found dead in a bathroom somewhere is inevitable.
So I'm not angry with the District, the facts might be a tad depressing but in the end the community that supports their decades of failure get what they deserve. What's more important, what I can (continue to) do, is inform anyone who crosses my path that the Kansas City School District isn't any place for kids that people actually care about . . . In particular, Latinos with any income to spare have long since escaped the clutches of the deplorable institution. My parents worked their ass off in order to insure that my siblings and I never had to endure the place. And the word has been out for years in the Latino Community, among almost every strata: "If you can get out, GET OUT!" In Spanish that sounds much nicer.
All of this reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with a former School Board Member, a Hispanic. After years of frustrating service with little progress whatsoever the politico decided not to run again . . . I asked why. The answer was plain and simple, "Tony, the District could care less about Latinos or any kind of education really. It's about power and political favors and the crooks in the Administration. Latinos need to just look somewhere else. It's one of the most dysfunctional places I've ever seen."
I was surprised by the answer for someone who had worked so diligently on behalf of the District. I then asked if there was even the slightest possibility of change, again I received another straight forward response. "There's not a chance in Hell that place will ever change."
Just starting out as a freelance reporter for a small community newspaper my youthful optimism let me ignore the comments and I didn't include them in my story. But I always remembered the conviction with which the words were uttered. This person didn't believe any of the annually circulated talk of reform or turnaround for the district and foretold that they would be in the same place despite so much effort and money.
The conversation took place nearly ten years ago.
Amato resigns; KC district seeks another superintendent
Amato out, locals tout temporary replacement
Amato To Step Down As KC Superintendent
Amato Out As KCMO Schools Superintendent
Midwest Voices - Shame on the school board.
Who must go....him or them?
Tony Amato being run out of KCMO Schools?
General Blather: School's Out Forever
THE KANSAS CITY POST: Breaking up is hard to do
Please send me a link if you've posted on the topic!!!! :)