Not much + not much = not much
“You get what you vote for,” goes the old saw.
By that standard, the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education voted for consistency Wednesday in retaining Superintendent Anthony Hamlet for four more years.
Consistent failure, that is. (And a failure regularly documented by the Allegheny Institute, detailed quite succinctly in Policy Brief Vol. 19, No. 40, among others).
Hamlet became superintendent in 2016 under a cloud – a statement of his educational philosophy appeared to have been appropriated from a Washington Post editorial and claims of progress in his prior job appear to have been inflated.
A Post-Gazette editorial at the time said Hamlet had “a slippery relationship with facts.”
The clouds never cleared and myriad questions remain unanswered.
There’s a still-open state Ethics Commission inquiry into some of Hamlet’s past financial disclosures.
Results of a school board investigation of an unauthorized trip to Cuba never has been made public.
There remain serious questions about procurement contracts.
Oh, there also was what was described as “a runaway travel budget.”
And, lest we forget the really important thing here, continuing wretched academic “achievement” for far too many students.
While some board members cite “modest progress” under Hamlet, performance in several key academic metrics has fallen during his tenure.
Yet the school board voted 7-2 – and a full six months early –to retain the school chief.
Two board members had the courage to vote no. One was Sala Udin, who pulled no punches in his spot-on assessment:
“When I look at the record of failure, especially in reading and mathematics for African-American students throughout the entire Pittsburgh Public Schools district, it is abominable, it is unforgivable,” he said.
“It is inexcusable that we have not found a way to significantly improve the performance scores of black children in this school district and we are forced to brag about incremental, tiny improvements that really do not improve their ability — it only improves the statistics.”
Hamlet, in thanking the board for its “vote of confidence,” had the audacity to chide “the misdirected self-interest of a few” that “attempted to take away from the progress we have made together.”
He says his retention will enable the district “to move forward squarely focused on improving outcomes for our students.”
But Hamlet failed in the first four years of his initial five-year contract. What makes anyone think he can get the job done in four more?
A former iteration of the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education made a mistake in hiring Hamlet. The current board doubled-down on that mistake Wednesday last.
Indeed, “you get what you vote for.” In Anthony Hamlet’s case that turned out to be not much. And not much plus not much equals not much.
Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (email@example.com).