Pedicone letter: TUSD must end 'reactive' decision making
In an end-of-year letter to faculty and staff, Superintendent John Pedicone expressed appreciation for the efforts of the faculty and staff of Tucson Unified School District, and called for a change for a "reactive" decision-making process.
He said the district is "an organization has failed to create systems and a culture that support a common vision."
"That has to change," he wrote.
"This has been a year filled with rich and positive stories of triumph and success, as well as some conflicting and difficult events that challenge our thinking and our mission," Pedicone wrote in the letter, which was emailed to district teachers and staff.
Controversies at TUSD have included closing schools because of declining enrollment, "turnarounds" at Palo Verde and Rincon high schools that saw half the schools' teachers dismissed, and an ongoing debate over a state challenge to Mexican-American Studies classes.
"Because we tend to work in a structure of separation instead of unity, and a highly political operational style rather than a relational approach, we constantly confront serious decisions in a reactive rather than a proactive manner," Pedicone wrote.
"That has to change if we are to get better and if we expect the community that we serve to have confidence that we can reflect the best of what we are rather than the worst."
May 26, 2011
Dear Faculty and Staff:
As we find the school year coming to a close, please accept my sincere appreciation for your contributions to our children and families. Last night, as a result of the effort that each of you made to the success of students, over 3,000 seniors graduated from Tucson Unified School District. As we have said before, whether you are directly engaged in the act of instruction or a part of our support and leadership teams in all aspects of the school environment, you are a significant part of the reason for last evening's celebrations in a real and authentic way. Please know that you make a difference in children's lives, and that really is the purpose for which we work.
Needless to say, this has been a year filled with rich and positive stories of triumph and success, as well as some conflicting and difficult events that challenge our thinking and our mission. In the short time I have been with you, I have seen first-hand the majesty of the dedication and effort that occur on a daily basis. One of the best kept secrets that must be revealed about TUSD is just how remarkable so many of our schools are as well as the people in them. When one walks onto the campuses of our schools and feels the culture and pride that have been created around a genuine sense of purpose and commitment, it is hard not to pause and internalize a renewed appreciation for the work that we have chosen to do. When I think about being at Cholla High School where I spent part of yesterday morning greeting seniors or at Catalina High School last evening where I had the honor of participating in their graduation ceremony, the look in the eyes of our students who are coming face to face with their journey forward, released from the tether to our schools, is the image that fortifies my resolve. Or when I visited the preschool promotion ceremony at Hollinger, where four year old children with mortar boards and smiles express their excitement, as only four year olds can do, the passion for the importance of keeping our promise to our children and families is deepened.
I have also experienced the challenges that exist when an organization has failed to create systems and a culture that support a common vision for what we need to do as well as the way we need to do it. Because we tend to work in a structure of separation instead of unity, and a highly political operational style rather than a relational approach, we constantly confront serious decisions in a reactive rather than a proactive manner. That has to change if we are to get better and if we expect the community that we serve to have confidence that we can reflect the best of what we are rather than the worst. Parents and community members should expect that we will make decisions for all students in a manner that values each student. They must trust that we will focus on student achievement and the welfare of the child above anything else.
As we look forward to taking some time to recharge this summer, I hope that you will have a safe and restful vacation. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to the next school year and the opening of the year assembly on August 10. Please let me reassert my commitment to serving you and this community as we work to make Tucson Unified School District the best that we can be.