To which Alfred responds that “some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
That scene came to my mind last night as I listened to a woman named Tiecha Ashcroft kvetching about recess at a meeting of the Pinecrest Academy Charter School board in Henderson.
Of all those who spoke before Ms. Ashcroft took the floor — teachers at the school and parents of children who attend the school — every single one voiced support for the school’s new principal, Dr. Carrie Buck.
And by the time Ms. Ashcroft got halfway through her lone diatribe of discouraging words, it became abundantly clear…
She’s one of those people who just wants to complain. You can’t reason with her. You can’t negotiate with her. Some people just want to.
But I’m getting ahead of myself… Why would I be sitting in a board meeting for over 90 minutes listening to parents and teachers (and one outstandingly articulate young lady who is a 5th-grader there) talking about a petty school brouhaha over recess when I home-school my own kids and have no involvement with the school in question whatsoever?
Because like the Caped Crusader I can’t just stand idly by and watch good people doing great things for kids suffer the injustice of being unfairly and unethically attacked. Especially when it comes from a conservative who’s supposed to be a professional and certainly should know better.
But before we get to the molehill incident itself, let me first put this in some proper perspective by telling you a little about the person who was attacked.
Principal Carrie Buck is everything you and I would want in a public school administrator. She insists on school discipline, sets high but achievable goals for both students and teachers, has an open-door policy for parents, and doesn’t whine about not having enough money from taxpayers to get the job done.
She got her start 23 years ago in an elementary school classroom. She is an ELL (English Language Learner) specialist, as well as a Teacher Mentor and Instructional Coach.
In 2006, Buck was appointed principal at C.T. Sewall Elementary School in Henderson. Sewall, at the time, was described as being “in transition.”
That’s PC-speak for “in the crapper.”
The building itself is the oldest in southern Nevada still in use. The student body is primarily low-income and minority — many for whom English is their second language. The staff entrance figuratively consisted of a revolving door. Morale stunk, as did the students’ test scores.
What Buck’s leadership was able to achieve over the next seven years was nothing short of miraculous.
Test scores soared. Math proficiency shot up from 36 percent to 89 percent, while English proficiency increased from 35 percent to 83 percent.
Sewall went from one of the worst schools in the state to one of the absolute best.
Indeed, the school’s reputation for academic excellence became so well know in the community that a number of parents unlawfully established false residences with friends and family in the neighborhood just so their kids could be zoned to attend Sewell.
As such, the student body swelled, straining the school’s limited resources.
But rather than kvetch about “under-funding” education, Buck went out into the community and, in her time at Sewell, raised “over four million dollars in grants, private funds and donations that provided basic needs for students and their families, as well as instructional supplies, facility improvements, academic enrichment, and technology for the school.”
While not quite qualifying for sainthood (yet), Buck has received considerable recognition for her talents and achievements…
—In 1999, she received the “Most Outstanding Educator” commendation
from the City of Henderson.
—In 2008, she won the prestigious Milken Award.
—That same year, she was one of seven chosen for the national ASCD
Outstanding Youth Educators Cadre.
—Buck received Faculty of the Month awards from the University of
Phoenix in 2002, 2003 and 2006.
—In 2011, she received the Shining Star Award from the Mind Research
Institute for tremendous student growth in math.
—In 2013, Buck was inducted into the Clark County School District’s
“Excellence in Education Hall of Fame.”
—And earlier this year Dr. Buck was nominated for the Life Changer Award from the National Life Group.
A bona fide expert in her field, Buck is a highly-sought after public speaker on education reform and excellence. She and her success at Sewell were featured in a March 2013 article for the National After-School All-Stars Program. And in 2013, Sewell was chosen as a Model Highlight School.
In January of this year, C.T. Sewell was designated as a State of Nevada Model School, as well as a National Title I Distinguished School.
One month later The Miracle Worker left Sewell and accepted the Principal position at Pinecrest Academy after the school’s founding principal abruptly and unexpectedly left the position under a cloud of circumstances not relevant to this discussion.
Suffice it to say, Buck took over Pinecrest under less than ideal circumstances eight months ago.
And just to prove the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished, Buck inherited Tiecha Ashcroft.
I explained earlier that the parent of a child at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson, Tiecha Ashcroft, has been complaining about all manner of things at her kid’s school — in particular a new recess policy — and criticizing the school’s new principal, the highly-regarded Dr. Carrie Buck.
OK, fine. You can’t please everybody, right? And anyone who’s ever been a member of a PTA knows that cranks and malcontents simply go with the territory.
So why am I writing about this situation when I have no connection to the school whatsoever?
Because Ms. Ashcroft found a blogger to unethically air Ms. Ashcroft’s petty grievances on the Internet — and the blog post has caused serious, undeserved harm to the reputations of both the school and Dr.
And you’re not going to believe who the blogger is!
No, it’s NOT Nevada’s #2 liberal blogger… though I can understand
why the “unethical” reference might have led you to believe otherwise.
But I’ll get to that in a minute. First a little about the school
The most important thing to know is that Pinecrest Academy is a CHARTER school. As such, people CHOOSE whether or not to send their kids there.
Which means if a parent doesn’t like the way the school is being run or thinks the principal is an ogre, they are free to put their progeny back in a regular public school, pay to send them to a private school, or take the option Gia and I have taken and homeschooling.
On the other hand, there is a WAITING LIST of other parents who would LOVE the opportunity to send their kids to Pinecrest Academy but can’t get in because the school is full.
So not only is Ms. Ashcroft making a nuisance of herself and disrupting school operations rather than simply going somewhere else, she’s denying another family of the opportunity to get a great education at a great school loaded with great teachers and administered by a great principal.
And why are so many families dying to get into Pinecrest. Well, take a look at some of the school’s published expectations as outlined in its operating manual…?
—We follow a school-wide vision that puts KIDS FIRST in all we do!
—All decisions are based on what is best for students
—We work together to get things done for the benefit of all children
—We work daily to improve school climate and morale at Pinecrest Academy
—Come to the table with solutions and be part of the solution and not
part of the problem
—Work hard and play hard
—Student and staff recognition and celebration will be built in to our
—Mediocrity is not acceptable
—Open door policy
—School-wide reading and math groups
If only ALL of our regular public schools followed such a model!
Pinecrest also has the additional benefit of having hired an Educational Management Organization (EMO)…
“ACADEMICA NEVADA provides Charter Schools with comprehensive service and support. We ensure a professionally managed and operated charter school that meets the requirements of the school’s contracts, local
ordinances and State and Federal Laws.
“Academica Nevada offers guidance and resources to guide Charter Schools from conception onward. Most importantly, Academica Nevada ensures the vision of a charter school Board of Directors is faithfully and effectively implemented.”
Which brings me to the school’s Board of Directors…
Just like the school’s principal, teachers, administrators, curriculum, mission and EMO, Pinecrest’s governing board is first-class all the way.
BOARD CHAIRMAN: Candace Friedmann is a retired CCSD teacher who taught first grade for 16 years. She received her BA from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois with a major in elementary education
and psychology. She has a Master of Education degree from Lesley University in Curriculum and Instruction: Integrated Teaching through the Arts. In 2006 she received an award for Distinguished Elementary School Educator in the Southeast Region.
BOARD VICE-CHAIRMAN: Randy Walker is the former director of aviation for Clark County and was responsible for the oversight of McCarran International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. Prior to that, Walker was assistant county manager for Clark County, where he oversaw 12 county departments and provided fiscal oversight for District Court, Justice Court, and all of Clark County’s elected officials.
The remaining members of the board all come from a diverse background and bring something unique in talent and experience that greatly benefits Pinecrest Academy. Indeed, not one of these folks fell off the turnip truck last night.
—So what we have here is a charter school…
—To which parents CHOOSE to send their kids…
—Which has a waiting list a mile long to get in…
—That has an exceptionally talented and experienced principal…
—That has an exceptionally talented teaching staff…
—That has hired an exceptionally talented EMO…
—And has an exceptionally talented board of directors…
Oh, and Tiecha Ashcroft…
Who’s been bitchin’ about the school’s new recess policy and found a blogger willing to turn that ridiculously petty molehill into an internet mountain.
And seriously, you are NOT going to believe who the blogger is.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.