Sunday, January 15, 2006

Deconstructing Peebles

Minneapolis liberals love spending other people's money.

When the Minneapolis School District needed a new Superintendent, they passed on an eminently qualified candidate, David Jennings, who was already in the city working as an interim Superintendent. The district chose to spend money on a nationwide search to find an outsider to come in and straighten up the mess known as the Minneapolis Public Schools.

Were they really looking for a reformer?

The search landed in Cleveland, settling on an educator named Thandiwe Peebles, who also had experience in the New York School system. She came on board in Minneapolis in July of 2004. Liberals were thrilled; Ms. Peebles was a minority, had dreadlocks, drove a stylin' Jaguar, and best of all, was from far away. Jennings was soon forgotten.

Here's what Minneapolis School Board member Judy Farmer said about Peebles in June of 2004:

Farmer says Peebles is also someone who can easily form relationships, and connect with community members.

How that tune has changed.

Peebles had a nice honeymoon period, but then her East Coast ways started to rub the milquetoast liberals the wrong way. It turns out she wasn't just the puppet they were looking for; she was actually trying to reform the system. And she was doing it in a direct manner, not in the passive-agressive way that urban liberals are used to. Now they needed to get rid of her, but how?

The liberals found themselves in a quandry - if she was a white male, it would have been easy. But she is a multicultural minority, and this presented a great dilemma. How would the liberals remedy this?

The Minneapolis educators who had been burdened by the sudden requirement of accountability needed an out with Peebles. Before long, an anonymous tip came in that she was using her staff for personal tasks. That was it! Just what the liberals were looking for.

Complaints were filed, meetings were held, and Peebles put into a kind of probationary limbo, but the momentum was building. Today, the Red Star reports on the current status, "Peebles has a lot at stake at meeting on Tuesday".

The city's school board is scheduled to convene a 3 p.m. meeting with Peebles at district headquarters to review an investigator's report on allegations that she misused her office and to assess how well she has handled specific assignments board members gave her last summer to improve her performance. The board also will review a survey about Peebles that was given to selected school staff members.
In other words, she's toast.

The parallel between the hiring of Ms. Peebles and Minneapolis Police Chief McManus are striking. As with the Superintendent search, the hiring of the Chief overlooked very qualified police department employees to spend money on a search for an out-of-stater. The results have essentially been the same. The Chief is an outsider who has failed to curb violent crime in Minneapolis, and Peebles is an outsider who has failed (or has not been allowed to succeed) in Minneapolis.

The Chief's results have been extensively documented in this blog; here is an example of Peeble's results from the Heartland Institute web site:

Despite facing similar challenges, St. Paul graduates 72 percent of its students, while Minneapolis graduates just 53 percent. Minneapolis spends approximately $1,000 more on each student than does St. Paul.
If Peebles leaves, business as usual dictates that Minneapolis will squander more taxpayer dollars:

If Peebles or the board decides that it's time for her to vacate the post, the decision could come with a financial cost. If the board fires her unilaterally, her contract would entitle her to almost $250,000 in salary, plus other accrued benefits.
Is there anything that can save Minneapolis from itself?

Here's some prior posts on the Peebles debacle:

Got Her Mind Right, She Did...

Minneapolis schools - will the last one out turn off the lights?

Minneapolis school follies

Peebles peoples