Monthly Archives: octobre 2020

School Superintendents in Lowell

It has been my pleasure to review the tenure of the Lowell School Superintendents and come up with some basic conclusions. The first is, being the head of the School system was a sure way to fail. Most of our superintendents lasted a minimal three years. Some lasted for longer but only two lasted over twenty years. Those two were Hugh J. Molloy and Vincent McCartin. Hugh Molloy lasted twenty years while Vincent McCartin lasted thirty five years. The current Superintendent remarked that he wanted to last as long as McCartin. So did my father but he realized that he had to gain tenure if he wanted a long-term position. He realized that he had to certify thirty one people or fire them. Most got fired, even though they were politically connected.

Let’s go through the list. It starts with Pastor Theodore Edson. He was voted School Committee Chairman for the first years from 1826 to 1858. He also took it upon himself to serve as the first Superintendent. It was a male supremacy situation. He served in it until they hired George W. Shattuck in 1859. Mr. Shattuck lasted for five years. Mr. Greenhalge, who became the Governor of Massachusetts, stated that his most enjoyable elective office was being on the Lowell School Board. They called it a Committee. That sounded more official.

Abner J. Phipps took over the superintendency in 1864. It is needless to say that he saw many of his men go to war, especially in 1864 and 1865, but nowhere does it say that he left the office because of that pressure. He lasted for three years. He was out by 1867. He was replaced by Charles Morill from 1867 to 1885, a formative twelve years. He was replaced by Charles H. Conley who served until 1886. That was a mere year. George F. Lawton served from 1886 to 1891. Arthur F. Whitcomb served from 1891 to 1912. We already discussed Hugh J. Molloy and Vincent McCartin. Combined they served 21 years and 35 years. He was followed by Wayne R. Peters, my father. He had one of the difficult periods. He had to decertify thirty one people. They were all politically connected. Peters spent his time the first year, getting the staff certified. The state oversaw the operation.

Wayne Peters personally built the high school library with a little help from a couple of custodians. He also enlisted the high school PTO’s help. I helped cut boards for stacks of books. I still do that at home. It did not ingratiate him to the unions. He was seen as anti-union. He came from a state that used parental help. I believe that my best friend of over fifty years helped out in efforts in Harvey, Illinois. In his years as Superintendent, it was common to use parental assistance. He did not use these people to spite the others. He was just carrying on a practice. He saw no fault in it. Unions attacked him for certification, and building a big library. It lasted about ten years.

Peters was very popular with the general public. He grabbed his School Committee seat by over 5500 votes over Kay Stoklosa. Kay jokingly told me that my father had beaten her totals in the City Council race. « Jimmy, he constantly beats me by coming in first. » Politics dictated that he would come in fifth the following election. Certain people had slated him for defeat that year.

Peters found the appeal by the teachers for testing. He helped design some of he tests. He regularly went to football games, especially the rivalry between Lowell and Lawrence. He bought me a suit so I would look like the Superintendent’s son. He bought a home/mansion in the Highlands because he could buy it for two-thirds the price of two-thirds of a Belvidere mansion. I had all of my friends living in Belvidere so I was not happy.

I wrote articles and Letters to the Editors of the Lowell Sun.. Most stuck up for my father although I did write about Vietnam which to me was a hell-hole. I remember the Armory, stocked with cannons. I remember taking my sister to the Strand. I loved the chandelier. I shopped at Talbot’s, McQuades, Bon Marcbe, Lull and Hartford, Prince Stationery, I was living the life.

Soon, everything crashed. An errant School Board came in with the intention of firing my father. The people did not seem to be for it but they had voted for these people and my father lost his job. It was the cost of success, My father went to a Superintendency in Holbrook for seventeen years, gloriously. Before he left, he passed me my diploma and got a standing ovation. He remembered that better than anything.

That was my father’s tenure. It was lasting and it was full. I would recommend Lowell to everybody.

Hugh McDonald took over for a year after my father. He was remembered for putting students into the AVCO Building. He had no children in the system. Avco was known for having no walls.

Earl Sharfman took over and did his best, He was here for four years.

Patrick Mogan, the father of the National Park, stayed here for five glorious years, He worked tirelessly on the National Park. He was a living legend.

Henry J. Mroz served for eight years. My brother-in-law was against him. I gave him a full house of supporters when I was the chairman of the Citywide Parent Council. He was so surprised he came back for other visits.

George Tsapatsaris served a healthy nine years. I often saw him walking with a story on his lips, through Belvidere when I had many cliients there for landscaping. George was an open and welcome visitor. Supposedly he used to troll his car outside of the high school and personally report the teachers who didn’t come in on time.

Karla Brooks Baer was no friend of mine. I was of the group who thought she was driven to change only under pressure.

Chris Scott I did not know. I was working on landscaping and I was too busy to be involved with the schools. I regret that Jean Franco served for four years, She served for three years,

Jean Franco served for four years, She oversaw my father’s having a room named for him. It is my understanding that she was very active in that.

I gave John Glenn a view of the high school in the late 1980’s.

Salah Khelfaoui lived here for three years, His tenure is still being determined.

Joel Boyd is currently doing a fine job, in my humble opinion.

So I have concluded that the average Superintendent lasts for about three or four years. That is my assessment. Take away the two long terms and the number shrinks. I think that we push Superintendents out.

Scientific Approach in Education

Too often we find students of education interested in delinieating sources of knowledge and the nature of science, as well as the nature of research.

These are the categories determined by researchers Ary, Jacobs, and Razavieh. That approach leads to finding the nature of problems and the sources of problems which easily identify population and variables. Easy to determine intelligence tests should not be considered as measures of innate or « pure » intelligence. It seems to me that it is easy to use factors that are partly dependent on the background of the subject.

One of my favorite research books is the seldomly used « Rural School From Within by MG Kirkpatrick, B.S. and Ph.D. Kirkpatrick cites simple testing and usage in use in past decades. The fact that Kirkpatrick has to bow down to the past practice of rural learning and teaching in 1917, before World War 1, does not diminish his embracing of the student who has to go to school at a point when the largest discipline problem is whether or not the largest student in the class can learn to follow the teacher’s learning practices.

A tall young man might reject the teachings of his teachers. Some students must learn on their own. According to the author, the one agency which touches the life of all country people is the rural school. Children of today’s schools can learn to behave as well as the young male student who sees little in his lessons that touch his life. Students of the early 1900’s had to give up their lives to help out the mechanized farm life. Study was not necessary.

Conversely, intelligence tests did not measure intelligence. Rather, it measured life of many years later. The results of the growth of male children towards the teacher, is often cited by Kirkpatrick as the reason for bad behavior by the full-grown students. They want to continue on with their adulthood by exercising their rights. One of their rights of this day, was the right to prove their adulthood by waging war on hidden enemies. I still have a friend that wants their draft board back. He is remarkably out-of-step. We step from protective environments to unprotected, kill that man or I kill the next, philosophy. In WWI to current day, there is always plenty of exposure of the baser incentives.

I told a man who collected hours as a pilot in an F14 that I believe that generations tend to not change. When you are in your twenties, you are interested in finding a mate, starting a family, overcoming poverty, and having children. The generation before yours was probably involved in many of the same things. Later generations will try to encapsulate those things that were important to their growth. There will be some challenges. Your former best friend might use your growth format for measuring how much more advanced her children are than are yours. And you may not find the comparison fair. But it often is.

So I believe that we do « measure the subject’s ability to perceive relationships, solve problems, and apply knowledge in a variety of contexts. » (Page 191) It cannot get any more personal than that.

It is the old adage, « the more things change the more they stay the same. » There are on-line treatments for couples or groups. There are always administrative diagnostics at home. Those can help us to find our way in a pandemic. Every group has some part of small group audio issues. That is just the way communication swells and embellishes our world.

In his book, « House Divided » it is common to read what appears to be truth in these fictional pages. It follows four generations of a Civil War family and tries to encapsulate various specific behaviors of these highly charged family (ies). It contains great sacrifices which continue to mount today. Life is difficult. Time is precious. People are sacrificed.

Lowell, Massachusetts is drawn to the happenings in the fictional book, although Lowell’s sacrifices were real and are etched in the granite in the Memorial Library. Over 700 men died in the many battles of Lowell, including the first two in the war, Ladd and Whitney. They are buried in front of Lowell’s majestic City Hall.

I have a good friend who sees each move to be threatening because it is based in history. He would reject all of my arguments to date. If you mention something which is modern he is fine. But come up with an argument on something that happened in 1066AD, he will scoff and say « history, » There is a lot more history than there is modernity.

That is the end of my diatribe. Things happen. People live and die. And, in this pandemic we are keeping track. Tonight’s death count is 12,000 plus. I just looked at a fine bit of sun’s charm, with the

rays hitting my computer. They formed a make-believe star. It was just my imagination, but it looked like a star. The sun cast the brightest hue on the computer screen. It looked glorious, and I will remember it.

Where do we go with our imagination? Anywhere. Life begins anywhere, and giving life is the ultimate thrill. This week, I have a new grandnephew, a brother who is a father, two new grandchildren, and a totally unreliable interest in politics. Add to that my sister’s three grandchildren, my other sisters’ grandchildren, my grandson, and others and my life is pretty full. Enjoy yours. Oh, and I cannot forget my older grandchild who will be going to college soon. I have been studiously watching « Forrest Gump, » holding onto his successes. Hopefully, I will find a few successes myself.Open block settingsOpen publish panel

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