A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fear Overcomes Wisdom

Superintendent Healy made it very clear at last night's Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District board meeting that he feels that his job hangs in the balance when test scores fluctuate in district schools and he will therefore move heaven and earth to see that those statistics are favorable to his ongoing and prosperous employment. Board President Kenny then repeatedly told the public that his board would only consider 1) Mr Healy's presentation that night and 2) confidential discussions the board conducted in executive session when they voted on the personnel array later that evening.

After standing in the hallway for 2 1/2 hours listening first to Mr Healy and then to a long line of teachers, staff, parents, and other members of the public, I saw the writing on the wall and went home in disgust. Mr Kenny had outlined his guidance to the board on how they should weigh their vote, and it didn't include listening to the public. (Feel free to post a note if the outcome of the vote was unexpected.)

I've come to realize that emotion, not reason, moves today's agendas, and no amount of intellectual argument will change anything. Lies and misrepresentation can be exposed eloquently but to no avail. And poor decision making will never be amended or reversed as a result of well-timed guidance. The fearful, more prevalent than normal in these uncertain times, lust for power. They do not seek wisdom but comfort, and none can be found where they are looking.


  1. What is he afraid of? Are our school's performing differently on the standardized tests? Was Lloyd Road's test results better or worse? He believes that switching the teachers around will smooth out differences or improve the overall results? What were the teacher's saying? thanks for this "heads up" account. I had no idea.

    1. Healy argued that performance was abysmal at Lloyd Road Elementary, citing public records. He refused to post his Power Point presentation, however. Since I was stuck in the hall due to the standing room only crowd, I didn't get to review his statistics or the way he presented them. You can find my article about the June 12th meeting in this blog, and Chelsea Naso did a great recounting of that meeting a couple of days later on The Patch. You can also find a video of the BOE meeting at the marsd website.

      The Asbury Park Press didn't cover the story at all, as far as I can tell, so I'm not surprised you're in the dark on this. If the board had their way, they'd play musical chairs with the teachers and you'd be none the wiser.

  2. The vote went as everyone expected. Strangely, four Board members were conspicuously missing, so we don't know how they would have voted.

    Healy and the Board were completely incoherent in their explanation of the rationale for the staffing changes. The implication was that teacher deficiencies have led to inadequate test scores, but they presented no evidence to show how the planned changes would fix this problem. Nor could they explain why only the reading scores were down and the math scores (conveniently omitted from Healy's PowerPoint) were quite good. Teachers and parents offered some very clear insights into problems with the current reading curriculum, but alas, the Board was impervious to their logic. The meeting bordered on comedy as Mr. Kenny intercepted questions directed to Mr. Healy ("Questions must be directed to me and I will then direct them to Mr. Healy and the Board...") and then proceeded to respond to questions with platitudes and mumbo-jumbo. There was not a single clear response to any concern or question raised by teachers/parents, no matter how well reasoned they seemed to be. Mr. Healy, his head spinning with corporate-educational buzzwords, refused a direct request to release his PowerPoint for publication on the MARSD website. (It was his "personal" document, despite the fact that he had just presented it at a public forum.)

    In the end, the Board assumed the position of a scary authoritarian clique that could only say something like: "Trust us, we know better than you. We have good reasons for doing this, but we can't tell you what they are." Certainly the meeting's low point came just before the vote, when indignant Board members (sometimes nastily) berated the teachers for questioning their motivations. "Why can't you trust us? We are wonderful people who only want what's best for the children!" But trust is a two-way street: if the Board wants the teachers to trust them, they'd actually have to start to talk to them. Given the attitude(s) we saw the other night, this doesn't seem likely.

    1. I was convinced after the 12 June BOEm eeting that there was nothing they could have learned in closed door sessions that would justify moving so many teachers around. Undoubtedly there is a need for private discussions on personnel and contract matters due to the restrictions of privacy laws. But people also hide behind secrecy when they have it at their disposal. That's why the BOE, the Councils,, and even the Library Board all take every opportunity to confer out of public view. Their inability to translate their sensitive findings for a public audience is a failing in literary arts.