March 23, 2012

Judy Callens: Good Riddance!

A friend writes:

The principal (no "pal" of mine!) of Hartland Elementary School, Judy Callens, is retiring at the end of this academic year (because her contract was not renewed?). We have therefore been subjected to a barrage of encomia for her devotion to learning and her inspirational leadership.

In fact, her vision is limited to producing little soldiers. She is obsessed with disciplinary trivialities and eager to punish anyone who does not fall in with her rigid program of indoctrination. Her paeans to "community" in a weekly newsletter were no more than self-aggrandizing assertions of her school as defining the limits of that community. She epitomizes the reasons that so many people are not just dissatisfied with their public schools, but flee them in horror.

When we reached out to the teachers to help us through a bad patch in our son's academics, asking them to warn us earlier than at grade-reporting of any problems, to suggest extra work that might be helpful, etc., we were met almost entirely with silence. The guidance counselor who further brought it up on our behalf was met with defensive anger. Finally, Judy Callens, with our son in her office to inform him of her latest punishment for poor grades, told him that his teachers have no responsibility to communicate (same root as "community"!) with us beyond entering grade data into the online "Powerschool" program.

She even prefaced her comment to this child with a sarcastic "With all due respect". Too cowardly to face his parents, she revealed her true lack of respect for, even hatred of, children. And that attitude characterized the entire school. Her "leadership" encouraged a blithe laziness among the teachers, an environment that expected respect to flow one way only, especially when not deserved.

The community of Judy Callens' vision is a narrow one indeed. It is entirely shaped by her own personality: mean, resentful, small. It is defined by deference to authority above all else, perversely tested by giving every reason to disdain it. Hers is the logic of an abusive parent: ensuring the very disrespect she demands in a vicious spiral of violence and failure.

Spring came early with the announcement of her departure. Let us hope that Hartland Elementary will do much better with her replacement.

I wish Ms. Callens all the misery and misfortune she deserves for the violence she has done to the many young lives entrusted to her.

School Choice Vermont!