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Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's Time For Schools Superintendent Debbra Lindo To Step Aside

93% Of Emery Teachers Say 
'No Good' To Superintendent

That's Good Enough For Us

We've been getting this creeping feeling over the last year; Emery's new superintendent, Debbra Lindo isn't a strong supporter of teachers.  She seems to look to the educational entrepreneur model of education; that being the new out-of-the-box way of imagining public education, much in vogue, that  relies on teams of expensive private education consultants, creating charter schools and ousting the teachers union.  It's a teacher disempowering, management heavy way of structuring education.  In addition to this, as a school superintendent, Ms Lindo seems aloof and she hasn't much engaged parents.
But these failings, admittedly sort of vague and unsubstantiated, fall by the wayside next to the bombshell dropped on June 11th as Emery teachers read a resolution of "no confidence" in the Superintendent, supported by 93% of the teachers at the district.

While the teacher's resolution, covered by The Secret News, is disturbing in it's litany of charges against Ms Lindo, it's the 93% teacher endorsement of the document we find most compelling.  If say, 50% of the teachers had voted no confidence in the Superintendent we would expect the School Board to engage in a serious and introspective look into Ms Lindo's job performance with an eye towards mediation to fix the problem but when more than 90% of teachers make a serious and public move against a superintendent like this, we say the Board has no choice; it's time to look for a replacement.

When more than 90% of teachers 
make a serious and public move 
against a superintendent like this, 
we say the Board has no choice; 
it's time to look for a replacement

To be clear, the teachers did not directly demand the Superintendent be fired.  But the resolution they filed is very definitive: they cannot work with Ms Lindo.  The District needs to take the hint and do the right thing by the teachers.  Anything short of replacing the Superintendent at this point will be correctly perceived as a move against the legitimate and immediate concerns of virtually the entire teaching staff.

We Need To Support The Teachers
This District has been tone deaf on many topics recently but we hope this will not be one of them.  It's abundantly clear by the text of the resolution the teachers have been feeling seriously used and abused and they have circled their wagons.  After a season of under valuing teachers here at Emery United, it's time for the School Board to come to their aid.  This issue promises to be a watershed moment in Emery Unified School District history.  How this plays out is likely to be very illuminating and who's back the Board has covered will likely be revealed.  If the School Board simply ignores this exigent and conspicuous teacher's resolution it will be taken as a snub against the teachers by the Board and the District.
As the teachers themselves made clear at the June 11th meeting, the 7% of their colleagues that didn't sign the resolution expressed fears of retaliation.  The fact that they even consider possible such an outlandish outcome for this resolution makes it imperative that the Board act in support of the teachers.

We intend to not allow this to be simply ignored.  We support our teachers at Emery United and we will make that support tangible if the Board refuses to act on this vote of no confidence in the Superintendent.


  1. It is time for the teachers union and the teachers who can not teach to "step aside".

    How long do we have to go on with failed teachers who can not teach? How long do we have to go on with a teachers union which does nothing but blindly protect "their family"? How long do we have to put up with rock bottom state educational test results from teachers and their union that try to justify the consistently failed results?

    Emeryville schools show no long term improvement. And the Board consistently looks to a better tomorrow that never arrives.

    The teachers and their union primary job are to protect the teachers pay checks and pensions at the educational achievement expense of Emery students. That has got to change.

    The ECCL will make no difference. The Board can rent out suites at the Four Seasons or St. Regis hotels for classrooms. But if the teachers union and their “93% family" can not teach, then we will continue to get the same failed results fully supported up by meaningless excuses from their union.

    Brian, you need to understand that the primary purpose of the Emeryville school District is not to support incompetent teachers; their primary purpose is to educate Emery students. I fully support teachers who know how to teach and with teaching results that can be objectively proven. If Emery teachers and administrators can not teach then consistently failed teachers should, as you say, "step aside".

    The question is not if Lindo should be fired, but how to fire the consistently failed teachers. A great place to start would be with the teachers in the failed math department. But their union will never permit this as the union primarily protects the teachers “family”, their pay checks and pensions. The teachers use the phrase "family" as thin cover to protect unsatisfactory job performance results.

    I fully support teachers and teachers unions who know how to teach and who can achieve verifiable educational results rather than long series of excuses. And this is not idle chat, as a tax payer I will gladly support teachers who can achieve verifiable educational improvements with generous and continuing annual cash bonuses.

    I have no confidence in the teachers union. I wish that these "93% of the teachers" focused on how to teach and were less concerned with cashing in on their paychecks and pensions. But then I guess most of them are on their summer vacation right now. Correct? Isn't that nice?

    Inability to teach is not "retaliation", rather it is a very legitimate concern of tax payers over failed teacher work product.
    While I am sure that the "immediate concerns of virtually the entire teaching staff", the 93% the Emery teachers, is to protect their pay checks, pensions, their union, I would rather see 93% of the teachers concerned with verifiable educational outcomes. But that just never happens. Despite poor District test results, when was the last time a teacher at Emery was fired due to poor work product? That just never happens. Say thanks to the 93% and their Union.

    It is unclear to me why you consider it a "bombshell" that the primary purpose of the Emery teachers and their union is their paychecks and pensions and not student education? This is nothing new and therefore not a "bombshell". The 93% will never support anyone or anything that threatens their pay checks.

    The concerned taxpayers of Emeryville, who want to see improvement in educational outcomes, "will not be ignored". "If the School Board simply ignores this exigent and conspicuous" lack of educational outcome, "it will be taken as a snub against the" taxpayers and those who support education in Emeryville, "by the Board and the District”.

    Let’s place the blame for failed outcomes where it belongs and then address the real issues in the District.

    1. We must make teachers responsible for their student's home gotta love the audacity of the Republican Party's hatred of working people. I love the "we have to kill the teachers union for the children's sake" platitude...very entertaining. Republicans are always doing things "for the children".

      The above commenter gives us the whole package.. the last time I heard such a complete litany of Republican talking points on one subject was when I called the Republican National Committee to ask about the global warming hoax. You sir, are to be credited for completeness on why teachers unions should be outlawed but you didn't say anything about the Republican plan to eliminate public education all together. As you know, the Republican Party wants to kill unions and public education as part of their multi-front war on the commons. Please educate (!) us on why we need to give up on the great public education experiment. Then maybe you can tell us why it's critical we return debtor's prisons.

    2. Here's how to improve students academic performance according to Mr Anonymous (above):
      Outlaw the teachers union thereby netting-
      Even lower wages for teachers
      Lowered job security

      These two outcomes will enable the District to hire the best and the brightest because everyone knows the best way to hire competent people is pay them less and offer no security.
      Then the new teachers will be held responsible for overcoming the students underprivileged home life's...because employees should have their jobs dependent on things beyond their control...that'll help get the best and the brightest also.

      So that's it in a them sub-livable wages, make them responsible for things beyond their control and make their jobs dependent on whatever mood some bureaucrat administrator thinks is a great program at the moment. All this will give us really good teachers! I know this because it's common knowledge that people like to be abused at work all the best employees flock to jobs that are abusive! Educational prospects are sure to rise for the children! That's why we must do this...for the children you understand. Everyone knows (union) teachers hate children...that's why they got into the profession after all.

  2. Teacher:

    After reading the comments from the first reader above, it made me laugh. How dare I go into teaching for "a paycheck and a pension." LOL! The fact of the matter is, MOST teachers DON'T go into teaching for the $$$. To even say that goes to show you that people don't know how little teachers are paid. I can't speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself..... I don't go to work for a check, I go to work because I love what I do and because I want to impact the kids in the Emeryville and surrounding areas. The majority of my students left reading at or above grade level and they left with academic and social skills that will help them later on in life and in
    their future academic goals. Sure, there are some teachers that have other agendas, as in all other jobs, but c'mon. It's easy to blame the teachers and unions but the bottom line is, do teachers have support? I was talking to a friend of mine this week and she said, "In our district, every classroom has smart boards and elmos, even the lower grades. The school board and community really support the
    teachers." Are teachers supported in Emery USD?

    As far as test scores go, the tests are BIASED for kids in an urban setting. EVERYONE knows that, or should I say MOST people. Even with that fact, teachers I know work hard and prepare their students well despite the disadvantage. For example : one test question I saw asked about France and the types of sports they have. Now really, how many of Emery USD students have ever been to France or have any exposure to French things? Remember, we are talking about low-socioeconomic families that are in our community. Better yet, if you think the test scores need help, why not go into the classrooms and volunteer prep help? Like I was always told, there are two types of people: those who complain and those who don't like the results and help to change them. Think about that anonymous. And by the way, test scores have gone up each year for the past 3 years and they will only get better. Wait and see!!!

    One thing I do agree with you on is looking at
    teachers who fail. I have talked with teachers about
    different things and when I finished talking to them, I
    asked myself, why are they here? Those teachers
    need to do a self check and ask themselves why are
    they here? I am far from perfect myself, but if
    something doesn't work, I change it and find
    something that does. I'm here for the kids, NOT A CHECK AND PENSION like you suggest and we
    should ALL be on the SAME PAGE.....teachers, administrators, unions, students, families....
    EVERYONE! Once we do that, we"ll be fine. For
    now, let's stop pointing the fingers at everyone
    including the mailman and come together for THE
    KIDS. That's what it's all about anyways. RIGHT?

    1. The best way to improve teachers who "fail" as you say, is to pay them more and improve their job security and then swamp them with new hires that are extremely competent (due to the new culture of higher professionalism brought on by higher wages and better job security). In such a culture of rising professionalism, the bad teachers, insofar as they exist, will feel job pressure to rise up and accept the challange. That's how it works in other fields of endeavor. The right wingers in their destructive anti-commons zeal are never made to explain this oversight on their part. At the Emeryville Police Department, there is such a high level of professionalism, that the bad cops (insofar as they exist) are made to rise up and be more professional, thereby lifting all boats as it were.

  3. i do not understand why anonymous on july 7 is hellbent on assuming that emery teachers only work for a paycheck and their pension.

    i have volunteered at anna yates for the past five years. none of the teachers i met fit anonymous' description. they are all hard working, dedicated teachers with a genuine concern for the students, are fully engaged in after school activities and even buy school supplies with their own money. last school year, the quota on copy paper was reduced and each teacher was allowed only one ream per month (i believe; i have the actual quota written down somewhere.) so i bought a case of paper for one teacher.

    i suggest that those who share anonymous' opinion, volunteer at either of emery's two schools and see for themselves under what conditions our teachers work.

    shirley enomoto

  4. Teacher

    Thank you Brian and Shirley. I appreciate your comments. Why? Because I SEE YOU ON CAMPUS HELPING OUT and supporting the teachers and our students. Shirley is right on about the copy paper. I buy my own copy paper at the beginning of the year and later on, I ask the parents in my room for donations. Without the parents bringing in donations, our students wouldn't be as successful as they are now. Period! Besides being an educator, teachers are asked to be a: doctor, psychologist, social worker, afterschool care providers when parents are late, not to mention doing all of these and other jobs with very little prep time during the week. So after reading anonymous on july 7, I had to respond. That's a person that knows NOTHING about the schools in Emeryville, just what he/she THINKS/FEELS. Teachers are in it just for a paycheck and a pension? REALLY? WHO goes to work for free? The fact of the matter is, IF teachers were in it just for the money, why do they stay in Emery when they can go somewhere else and make MORE money? I know 5 teachers off hand that came to Emery USD knowing good and well they were taking a PAY CUT! Guess what? They haven't left for more money, they're there because they care about the kids. Like Shirley said, teachers do a lot after school that would only be seen by people who are there after school. The day is over at 3 p.m. so again, WHY would those teachers stay there and help out with after school programs or staying late to plan and prepare for their students? Hmmm..... The bottom line is this..... I suggest doing as Shirley said. Go down to the schools and volunteer. Go into the classrooms and see what's happening. I've actually seen Shirley on both campuses more than school board members and the superintendent! But yet, teachers are in it for the money/pensions and that's all we care about? WOW! I'll end on this note: at the end of the year a parent with 4 kids in the district, told me this: "I have been with this district for years and this was the first year that I lost faith in the superintendent and the school board. They have put their own agendas and wants ahead of our kids and it's not right. If this continues next year, my family and I will leave and not look back. Put that in the bank."

  5. As usual the predictable tired old teachers union excuse machine swings into gear. Let’s take a close look at their so called arguments.
    Brian: You’ve “been getting this creeping feeling over the last year”. Most Emeryville taxpayers have had a creeping feeling for the last ten years; this creeping feeling is a direct result of the EUSD consistent educational failures and the flawed excuses they use to justify these continuing failures. No one has answered the question as to when was the last time an EUSD teacher was fired for poor job performance. Has this ever happened? Ever? Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same things again and again expecting different results”. The continuing failures at the EUSD were here long before Lindo came on the scene, so that’s not the variable in the equation that needs to change. Why are those teachers still here? Because the Union contract, which for all practical purposes, makes it impossible to get rid of the “no good” teachers. “That not good enough” for Emeryville taxpayers.
    Brian you look at every issue facing the EUSD through your ultra left rose colored glasses. Take your rose colored glasses off for five minutes. If you did, you would you would see educational failure, misplace priorities, no real improvement and consistently unsatisfactory results. Instead of testing the students all the time, let’s test the teachers instead. Then support the teachers who can teach. “You gotta love the audacity” of the ultra left and their rose colored glasses who will consistently sacrifice the education of the EUSD students for the benefit of the failed teachers and their Union. Why Brian?
    Brian, I am a Democrat and union supporter who thinks teachers who can teach should get paid much more. Look objectively at long term well documented State test results. I fully support “the great public education experiment” but I want to see that experiment work. I favor much higher wages, job security, benefits and bonuses based on educational achievement, not the Union’s “family” status.
    Teacher: EUSD is in an urban setting and the teachers who work here knew that before the accepted their position with the District. If they can not teach in an urban setting, then they should get additional training or leave the District. I understand that “low-socioeconomic families that are in our community have never been to France”. I also understand the purpose of education is to enlighten students as to what goes on in the world beyond the one square mile of Emeryville. While we already know that continuing and graduating Emery students are poor in math and English, thank you for informing us that Emery students also can be expected to know nothing of the world outside of Emeryville. The failures of the District are consistent throughout subject matter. What do they do for 12 years? I appreciate that you have”talked with teachers about different things and when I finished...I asked myself “why are they here”. Great question. I too am looking for an answer. Many teachers are certainly not here for impressive educational achievement. Why are they here?
    Brian July 8: I absolutely agree that the best way to improve “failed teachers” is to pay successful ones more, their job security (but based on educational outcomes) and “swamp them with new hires that are extremely competent”. Unfortunately, the current union contract will not permit that.
    Anonymous July 9: Yes, the some teachers at Anna Yates are perhaps “hard working, dedicated, with concern for the students”. The issue is that they are ineffective. I have no confidence in those specific teachers or their inability to improve or change. This has been going on far too long. I will support a parcel tax to purchase all the “copy paper“ these teachers need and a whole lot more, if you will support objective teacher testing for educational outcomes and a Union contract that allows for consistently failed teachers to make a change in their employment status with the District. It’s a two way street.

    1. Rose colored glasses? As a parent with a child in the District, I really don't care about ideology. I'm interested in quality public education only. Now it also happens I care about strong unions because America is strongest when unions are strong, also specifically I'm middle class and I pay attention to macro-economics in America and so that also means I'm interested in strong unions. But my interest in unions is eclipsed by my interest in Emery public schools being the best they can be. The unions are abstract, really, in this equation.

      I'm interested in teachers being highly paid and having good job security (that only unions can provide) because THAT'S THE ONLY WAY TO PROVIDE QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION. The Republican model can only have one effect and that is to bring down public education.

      There is NO CONCEIVABLE WAY educational prospects can improve if teacher pay is based on student test outcomes....that will only drive out good teachers who will look for a less politicized and more stable job. Every teacher with means will head for the wealthy districts with the high test scores. Being an urban district, we'll be left with the dregs.

      No, sorry, there's only one way to have public education happen (key word education) and that is to stop the privatization track and dedicate school districts to educating every child and that can only happen with good teachers and we can only get them by paying them and making the profession more palpable to professionals.

      You should revel in the Oakland School District and its Superintendent Tony Smith (formerly of Emeryville and still revered here). Tony's plan is something you would like; Cut, Shut & Charter. It's way of eliminating the teachers union and privatizing public education. He's well on his way in Oakland and the test scores are going to be coming up any day now he says. Meanwhile, the academically struggling kids are going to be left behind to fend for themselves...never mind the unethical nature of it, that'll work out just great for the greater society, don't you think?

      You may be registered Democrat but I'm not interested in your Republican solution to the problem (that public education even exists). I'm not buying what you're selling and I wouldn't even if I didn't have a child in the District. Your model simply appeals to the base instincts of bitter people. It's not based on provable's just emotionalism and jingoism.

  6. to anonymous july 9:

    jeez, i dislike taking the time to write to phantom people. how long have you lived here? are you a homeowner and property tax payer? we passed a school parcel tax in 2003 effective 2004 and runs through 2019. this tax was specifically earmarked for teachers' salaries, books and supplies. this parcel tax generates about $2 million per year. do you think the teachers are benefitting from this tax if teachers are being laid off and something as common as copy paper is being rationed out? that was only one example i gave. what about chairs that are so torn up, they need to be replaced but there's no money in the budget for it? or tables that are so cheaply made, they only lasted five years?

    are you listening to a word i'm saying? go down to the police dept., get fingerprinted, get a t.b. test from your doctor and VOLUNTEER! if this doesn't turn your head around, i don't know what will.

  7. The problem with Anonymous' comments is that they rely on the assumption that the state tests actually reflect something about student learning or teacher effectiveness. That's a false assumption. They merely reflect how well students can do on THAT test. Tests like these that have such a consistent correlation with income level are a better test for poverty than they are for student learning or teacher effectiveness. I have children at Anna Yates and so far I've only seen fantastic teachers doing an amazing job. If you claim otherwise, I can only imagine, as Shirley explains, that you need to get in there for yourself and see what's happening first-hand. Stop relying on these totally inappropriate tests as your primary (only?) source of information about what quality education looks like. It's a giant mistake.

  8. We all agree that we are “interested in quality public education only”. The dialogue must be around how we get from here to there. The EUSD has been a fiasco for a long time so significant changes must be made. Let’s look at the Union. Their contract with the Board incorporates guaranteed lifetime employment for the dregs (your word, not mine) and this contract is then supplemented by a full benefit package, regular paychecks, a pension, every possible vacation day known to man, short work days plus an extended summer vacation. How very nice, but this contract does nothing for student “quality education”. Do you think that the dregs (your word, not mine) will ever leave on their own accord? Of course not. Who would hire them? Do you think that failed teachers among the “93%” are getting multiple job offers from the Palo Alto, Moraga or the San Mateo school districts? LOL You say, “my interest is in Emery public schools being the best they can be”. Great line, (although perhaps you are watching one too many Marine recruiting commercials)but how is “the best” going to happen if we are forced keep the dregs (your word, not mine) on the payroll based on the unions lifetime employment “due process” contract? You say, “America is strongest when unions are strong”. Sure, sounds great, but only as long as the unions do not instill and protect failure.
    You say, “The unions are abstract, really, in this equation”. What is abstract about a union contract that forces the district to provide lifetime employment to failed teachers? There is nothing abstract about the unions so called “due process” clause that means it typically forces a school administrator to spend 5 years and over $150k in outside legal fees to proceed with an attempt to fire an unsuccessful teacher. What part of that is abstract? No wonder Shirley finds there are no funds for copy paper.
    Competent teachers have no reason to be concerned about job stability as they will always be welcome herein Emeryville. Thriving teachers will always have employment here because they are sorely needed and will produce great educational outcomes for students. It is only the dregs (your word, not mine) that need to be concerned about test scores, not the competent teachers.
    I am in favor of paying highly skilled teachers who can prove their ability by annual objective student tests, a $90,000/year salary. The failed teachers need to go and if the unsuccessful teachers “will look for a less politicized and more stable jobs”, then I say adios. Let’s change the existing EUSD model by making room in the classrooms for competent teachers.
    If the EUSD offered a quality education, enrollment here would not be falling, State attendance aid diminishing and middle class families moving to districts like Walnut Creek. Instead of forcing middle class families to Walnut Creek, why not provide a quality education right here at the EUSD? Most middle class families can not afford an expensive private education, especially families with more than one child. If the EUSD provided a quality education, instead of falling enrollments, the district would have a waiting list. I have not heard of any waiting list to get into the EUSD, have you?
    One final thought Brian. You say you “really don’t care about ideology”. While I do not see that “lack of ideology” in your writing nor in your speeches before the Board, I do have some suggested reading for you. No, not Ayn Rand, and no, not Milton Friedman. But the ultimate source of wisdom, the foundation of clear thinking, meaningful questions and thoughtful analysis. What is this source of great wisdom and understanding? Why it’s the Emeryville Tattle, of course. I assume you’ve read it? (LOL). I suggest you read your blog dated 06/22/11. Then perhaps you will better understand why Emeryville taxpayers are frustrated with what we are getting for our tax dollars. We are providing the support but we are not getting the results.
    Best of luck to you Brian.

    1. To Mr Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine)-
      Its clear you are not a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine). Perhaps you think you are a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine) but with the bullshit you laid out here, there's no way you could be a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine). I think you're just saying you're a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine) as a way of giving your argument a sense of legitimacy but everyone knows you are not a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine). I had a friend of mine who's a REAL Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine) read your inane ramblings and he assured me you are not a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine). I know he's a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine) because I saw his party registration and he showed me his union card and that was more than enough to convince me he is a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine). He says you are either deluded or a poseur because a fellow Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine) would support working people and children. All you have to do to prove this is talk with any actual Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine) and they'll out you as a phony Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine). I wonder why you think the ideology of a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine) is something to aspire to since you seem to have disdain for the views of the typical Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine). In the unlikely event you are a Democrat and union supporter (your words, not mine), then why don't you switch parties and join the Republicans since they hold your views, not the Democrat and union supporters (your words, not mine).

  9. Anonymous July 11 states: “The problem with Anonymous' comments is that they rely on the assumption that the state tests actually reflect something about student learning or teacher effectiveness.”

    Of course the tests reflect teacher effectiveness and student learning. Each spring, students in grades two through eleven take a STAR test. The STAR Program looks at how well schools and students are performing. Students take tests in math, reading, writing, science, and history. Teachers and parents then can use test results to improve student learning.

    The STAR Program includes four tests: the California Standards Tests, the California Modified Assessment, the California Alternate Performance Assessment, and the Standards-based Tests in Spanish.

    The Union and Board excuse machine here in Emervville always tries to deny the validity of the tests because they do not like the results given by the tests. The excuse machine prefer other unmeasureable and useless “measures” of success like the love the teacher gives to the child, how much the student smiles, self esteem and attendance at band practice.

    The failed teachers union and administrators try to deny the tests because they do not want to face their consistent failures. Rest assured the union would instantly forget their criticism of these tests if the tests some day showed the EUSD with the top test results rather than the bottom results. Despite the Boards ongoing dreams of a better tomorrow, history shows that tomorrow is not likely to happen anytime soon here at the failed EUSD.

    There have been many examples of urban schools that have dramatically improved their test scores. Just not here in Emeryville.

    As long as we keep employing failed teachers, especially in the math department, we will continue to get failed results.

    The excuse machine rolls on and on.

  10. ANYONE who works in public education is NOT working for a pension and a paycheck.
    There are MUCH easier fields to work in where you will make WAY MORE MONEY and have better retirement options. That should be a no-brainer, but for some reason, some people seem to think you can get rich working in public education.
    But, as bad as it is for the teachers, it's ten times worse for the classified staff. Almost ALL of the classified staff (excluding managers/administrators) do not make enough money to be over the poverty line. When I worked there, I was a HIGHLY skilled worker, working in a a highly skilled postion, I took home 30k a year, market rate for the work I did was 60k+.

    You want to get rid of bad teachers? Stop giving them tenure, and FIRE THEM. You have 2 years to fire the teacher for no reason at all, then you're screwed when you hire them for year 3. And it takes a lot less time than 2 years to find out who can do the job, and who can't. Mr. Burns was just given tenure and he's one of the worst teachers I've ever seen, and it's not like thats a secret. Seriously, spend a couple days observing his classes, then go ask Anakarita Allen why he got tenure, and not his walking papers.