Dr. White

Dateline: Fri 25 Jan 2013

Loved him at Washington Township, when he was principal of North Central High School and addressed incoming freshmen with a by turns humorous and serious talk about "the little yellow cupcake" that would be delivering them to their new digs in the fall where they would be expected to perform -- all kidding aside.

His delivery was punctuated with the charm of a slight lisp, which only added to the paradox: he is a big guy who was open with the kids about his own struggles, especially those of a racial nature in the deep South and being reared by a single mom who cleaned white folks' houses. Yet he was one tough mofo, and he tolerated no bullshit, and he expected the best from everyone.

Loved him, too, when as superintendent of the township, he would halt graduation ceremony proceedings at the first volley of screams and whistles from the audience (the kids knew better). Ladies and gentlemen, he explained, do not interupt this solemn, celebratory service with a display of noise and rudeness. The fact that those doing the hooping and hollering were always proud black families and friends of grads did not deter him. He was that kind of a guy -- no b.s.

Somewhere between his township job and taking over the reigns at Indianapolis Public Schools, where he is now stepping down to the tunr of $619,121, he lost his mojo.

I mean, that mojo was one gone daddy.

A friend who is a retired, dignified and black IPS schoolteacher practically had to hold her nose the other day as she talked about what "Dr. White" did wrong. 

"I am no fan of Dr. White," she sniffed. In a nutshell, he ignored incompetence and, yes, laziness among the top, highly paid administrators in the politboro.  He could dish it out to the kids and the families, but not to veteran administrators and pencil-pushers earning six figures. Earning, I might add, on the backs of the kids.

Also, said my friend, "He promoted black males" over everyone else and sometimes did so when the promotions were not deserved. The message was he played favorities.  Boo.

Then, there were his personal, on-the-side relationships -- but never mind. Suffice to say, he lost whatever respect he had coming in, and, in my view, he became a bully advocate of the status quo. I always loved reading Kelly Kennedy Bentley's thoughts on the inner-workings of IPS, because, while she is a ferocious public school person, a veteran herself who put her money (and her kids) where he mouth is, she never did PR for IPS when she was on the board. She got that "Dr. White" sometimes fell seriously short of both goals and expectations.

Anyhow, he is now gone, and one can only presume that many of those six-figure administrators he protected will soon follow...and if we can't presume, let's hope so.  For the sake of IPS.

 

 

 

Comments

caaffrica.com [unverified] said:

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2013-01-25 08:07:42

Kelly Bentley [unverified] said:

Thanks Ruth.

Dr. White's failing is that he will not admit that the traditional management structure of IPS and other urban districts----a structure that has been good to him--is broken and does not work. He had the freedom and power to clean house in IPS and bring in exceptional talent, but he simply chose not to.

2013-01-25 08:33:51

Tiny [unverified] said:

I didn't realize Orchard Country Day was part of IPS...

2013-01-25 09:32:21

hendy [Member] said:

Orchard is *not*.

Ruth, you summarized my sentiments regarding Dr White as well. I admire the man. I think it's a case of the Peter Priniciple at work. He was promoted into a spot over his head, doomed by not only politics, but the insanity of school funding issues, a decaying infrastructure, tough rules, and a base of K-12 daycare problems that have plagued IPS for decades.

E Zendejas, and numerous others have experienced the same problems Dr White did, too. The IPS super-spot is the hotseat. I can't think of anyone that came out of that spot smelling like a rose. Dr White didn't either. Now what? More destruction of public schools through charter schools? More desegregation problems? Who are they going to hire that can make a difference?

2013-01-25 10:02:07

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

I don't know why school districts were ever allowed to be as large as IPS. When you have large, you have bureaucracy. And plenty of places for incompetent people to hide out and collect fat paycheck by pushing pencils and taking two-hour lunch breaks.

The new superintendent needs to streamline the district, dismantle the bureaucracy (as much as possible), direct funds to the schools and classrooms, put people in supervisory positions who are qualified.

Otherwise, I think IPS will be like a sinking Titanic and the kids will eventually be bused off to township schools.

2013-01-25 17:48:51

Jake [unverified] said:

What major urban school system isn't cesspool of corruption? The local township schools are not so hot, either. Power corrupts, and government power corrupts absolutely.

2013-01-25 19:28:43

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Of course, one could also make the argument that Indy government is a cesspool of corruption. The Broad Ripple Garage, North of South and the CIB leap immediately to mind.

2013-01-25 19:47:22

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