While acknowledging that there is room for improvement in the district, Deer Valley High School teacher J Myers said he thought the reform training's top-down approach of trying to fit every district and every school into one model for achievement actually hurt some Antioch schools where unique programs were getting results.
"We were doing a tear-down when we needed a remodel, which I think is what got people upset," Myers said.
Sims’ tenure has been marred by several controversies in the past year: contract negotiations with the teachers union that dragged on for 17 months before finally reaching a settlement; failure to notify police in a timely manner about a Carmen Dragon teacher searching for child pornography on a school computer, preventing a possible prosecution; announcing that Antioch High would go to a co-principalship, then, when it faced a backlash, citing the board for the decision and rescinding it.The AUSD school board, which attended a number of retreat-style training sessions put on by McAdams and his crew of education privatizers, called the resignation and severed ties a "blessing in disguise." The real disguise is the one Broad and McAdams continue to wear as they parade around the country peddling their reform agenda, masking their clear desire to dismantle public education. McAdams, if you remember, was on the HISD board that helped spawn Rod Paige and created the so-called "Houston Miracle" that Bush used to justify No Child Left Behind. McAdams calls for vouchers, charter schools, high-stakes testing, privatization of school functions (labeled as "outsourcing"), and decentralization - a term he uses synonymously with privatization (see his book, "Fighting to Save our Urban Schools...And Winning!"). It shouldn't come as a surprise that Broad loves this guy. But fortunately, Broad and McAdams have lost their grip on one school board; this is a little bit progress we can measure.
Sims, who earns $182,712 per year, has also been criticized for not sufficiently engaging district employees in decision-making, for allowing student discipline to slip and for not making sufficient progress in raising student test scores in a district in which nearly a third of students drop out before graduation.
“The resignation of Dr. Sims … reflects her approach to leadership: her absolute lack of personal communications with employees and the board; her flawed decision-making process from a totally top-down leadership style,” said Gary Hack, president of the teachers union. “That reflected in everything from bargaining to discipline to curriculum to morale. This year it became more obvious and public, based on the issues the union brought forward, but also the awareness of what was happening in the district – or not happening.”