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Arlington Schools Not On Fire

Our schools are not on fire or radioactive.  They are not on a bus with a bomb that will go off if the bus slows down below 50mph.  In fact, they are not even “in turmoil,” as much as the Globe would like you to think so. Our superintendent resigned.  That’s it.  School Committee member Ron Spangler sent out an email today that called the Globe on their Chicken Little reporting: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Ron continues on: “The overwhelming majority of the people we’ve hired to educate our children are doing just fine.  Their work in preparation for the school year is proceeding smoothly. . . . Principals and teachers are sending out their annual welcome back letters, same as always. The superintendent’s resignation will have no impact on our kids, or  their classrooms.”

I still don’t even know why Nate Levenson quit.  I’ve remarked before about how I admired his skill around the budget.  I’ll miss him during budget season.  I wonder if my opinion of him will change when I find out what his “impropriety” was.

As much as I liked him, he clearly pissed a lot of people off.  There weren’t a lot of people who were undecided about him.  He was loved and hated (in near-equal measures, looking at the last school committee election).  It’s unfortunate that there was such hardening of opinion.

Ron again: “I think the only turmoil is in the places it can do the least harm. There’s turmoil among some elected officials.  (This is new?)  There’s turmoil on the Arlington List.  (Gasp!)  And there’s turmoil in the reporting of the local media, which sells papers and gets eyeballs on webpages, but doesn’t necessarily capture what is really going on.”

The silver lining of his resignation is that it gives the town a fresh start.  It gives us a chance to let go of the conflict and abandon the battlements.  Hopefully the new superintendent can be picked in a refreshed environment – no hard feelings, just good skills and a good person.


Comment from Ron Spangler
Time: September 10, 2008, 12:04 am

Dan, thanks for your comments. I had advocated for the committee to release a statement that laid out exactly what the “impropriety” was, so there wouldn’t be so much mystery and scandal. Our attorneys and chair decided to go a different direction, and I guess you’ve got to listen to the lawyers.

The only thing I’ll take issue with is your comment about the last election. Two of the three seats went to people who, like me, support the direction the Arlington Public Schools are now heading in. I really don’t want to play into the whole “divided committee” thing, but the fact is that through the last two elections, both of which took place in the midst of some sort of “scandal”, the committee has ended up with a larger majority of its members supporting that direction.

Comment from dunster
Time: September 10, 2008, 12:17 am

That’s fair criticism. The storyline is about divided votes in the election. I believe the storyline, but the numbers don’t confirm it. They’re more ambiguous than I indicated.