Prelude to Hamlet’s fall?

Prelude to Hamlet’s fall?

The tide appears to be turning against Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.

Friday last, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorialized that the school board “should be thinking about replacing Mr. Hamlet when his five-year contract expires in 2021.”

But the fact of the matter is, the board likely made a mistake hiring Hamlet in the first place.

Not only on his resume did Hamlet inflate his responsibilities and accomplishments in his prior role as a middle and high school principal in Florida, his educational philosophy statement appeared to have been lifted, in part, from a 2015 Washington Post editorial.

Fast-forward to 2019 and new controversies dogging Hamlet.

He’s now the subject of an ethics complaint for having failed to file financial disclosure forms in 2017 and 1018. Those forms were filed hours after a TV report of his lapse.

Hamlet also is the subject of investigations for unauthorized foreign travel, gifts from vendors and no-bid contracts.

Calling Hamlet “an underwhelming figure,” the P-G reminds that “students learn discipline and good habits through example. That’s why the superintendent of schools must be a person of unquestioned competence and sound judgment who wants nothing more than to be in the trenches, leading by word and deed every day.”

In that regard, Hamlet clearly has fallen short.

That said, Hamlet has taken to shooting the messenger – primarily the media that have reported on the matter and intimated (in a friendly interview with the New Pittsburgh Courier) that he has been targeted because he is black.

And he argues that such unfair scrutiny distracts from “trying to move the district forward,” whether it be improving student achievement or ancillary issues.

But the superintendent might be careful what he wishes for. After all, the results for far too many Pittsburgh Public Schools students remain disastrous.

Or as Jake Haulk, president-emeritus of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, put it in January (in Policy Brief Vol. 19, No. 3), citing the latest Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test results:

“Woeful.”

“Shocking.”

“A scathing indictment.”

“Pathetic.”

The city school system “is stuck, and has been stuck, in a politically driven management and education mentality that is not only failing students but constantly finding excuses for why (administrators and teachers) should not be blamed,” Haulk said.

“They claim more money, more programs and more decades of experimentation will get the job done,” Haulk adds. “But, as old timers used to say, ‘That dog won’t hunt.’”

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).