What a joke! Failing leader awarded Supt. of the Year

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, 77.5 percent of the students in St. Paul Schools are not proficient in math. The same data shows 69.2 percent of St. Paul students are not proficient in reading. Proficient means reading and doing math at grade level.

In February of 2023, a student in a St. Paul high school was knifed to death by another student in the hallway on a Friday afternoon. Teachers at Harding told the Pioneer Press that they weren’t surprised a student was finally killed at school, saying, “Between 40 and 70 students routinely roam the hallways instead of going to class, and harassment and drug use in bathrooms is common enough that many students either hold their bladders or go to the nurse’s office.” The school district removed School Resource Officers (SROs) from schools after the killing of George Floyd in 2020.

Despite the abysmal performance of students and clear safety issues in schools, Superintendent Joe Gothard was just named Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators. He was placed in nomination after being selected as Minnesota’s Superintendent of the Year.

Here are some of the things said about Gothard in the press release announcing the award:

“Congratulations to Joe Gothard, an outstanding leader in public education who has made an immense impact on the learning communities of Saint Paul Public Schools and the entire nation.”

“Superintendent Gothard and our three other finalists selected for this prestigious recognition represent the hallmark of education excellence, ensuring students in their communities receive the foundation needed to lead productive and successful lives.”

“At a time when America is crying out for innovative thinkers who can bring America’s public schools to greater heights in a post-COVID world, it is an honor to congratulate Joe Gothard of Minnesota as the 2024 National Superintendent of the Year.”

When they announced the award at a conference in San Diego, the music blared and they gave him a dress jacket like he just won the Masters golf tournament.

How completely embarrassing for everyone involved. How can the leader of a school district where hardly anyone can read or do math at grade level be given an award like this?

“Made an immense impact on the learning communities of Saint Paul Public Schools?” How?

“Ensuring students in their communities receive the foundation needed to lead productive and successful lives?” Not if they can’t read!

“Innovative thinker who can bring America’s public schools to greater heights?” Based on what measurements?

This is another example of Orwellian Newspeak where up is down, black is white and leaders of chronically failing schools are given awards. Gothard said in his acceptance speech that he’s “stood up against some of the more difficult challenges that leaders have faced and have been recognized for doing so in a way that puts students first.” No, Joe, you haven’t put students first because you haven’t taught them how to read or do math at grade level! Ugh!

He goes on to say, “My message is that we see and we value our students in all of our schools. It’s something I think we forget in our work of analyzing data and making sure that we’re getting outcomes, we’re working with real people and children who need to have people who believe in them each and every day.”

More gobbledygook about “seeing” and “believing in” children instead of teaching them. Gothard should revisit some of the data and outcomes he dismisses before those children he “sees” in St. Paul Schools end up graduating from high school unprepared for the next chapter of their lives.

Giving the leader of a chronically failing school system an award like Superintendent of the Year is a complete joke. It’s hard to believe they could do it with a straight face.