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PSASA president says he was shunned

The executive board members of the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association are incensed. For the first time in the history of an annual back-to-school event for Baltimore's principals, assistant principals, and other middle management, the president of their union will not be permitted to bring greetings.

Jimmy Gittings, president of PSASA, says he was told late last week by Dr. Alonso's executive assistant that only Alonso and Brian Morris, the school board chairman, would speak at the "CEO's Academy," to be held Aug. 12 at Morgan State University. Gittings has spoken at the event every year for the six years he's been in his position, and he said his predecessors spoke every year before that.

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A letter went out today to all PSASA members saying, "Jimmy's voice will not be silenced." Gittings has arranged to deliver his back-to-school address at 7 p.m. Thursday on Morgan's radio station, WEAA (88.9 FM).

For those of you who haven't been tuning into city school board meetings in recent months, Gittings and Alonso have had a series of heated public exchanges about the future of the system. Gittings has been a strong critic of Alonso's budget reorganization because of the extra responsibilities placed on principals, and he generally believes the CEO is changing the system too fast.

Don't expect Gittings to mince words when he goes on air. He wants to give credit for the recent increase in test scores to the two previous CEOs, Bonnie Copeland and Charlene Cooper Boston, and the administrators who worked under them. He said he won't "sit back and let the public think that this administration is responsible."

Gittings and Orrester Shaw, the vice president of PSASA and principal of Pimlico Elementary/Middle School, said they believe Alonso and Morris are trying to quash the union. (Shaw said he was contacting the media on behalf of PSASA's executive board.)

Alonso said they're overreacting. "It just completely misunderstands how I think and how I function," he said. He said the CEO's Academy has traditionally been a ceremonial event, but this year, he wants it to be a day of meaningful professional development -- meaning he needed to cut back on the number of speakers. He said his own remarks will be about data analyzing student performance. "This is a day of professional develpment," he said, "and I didn't want to make it ceremonial." Learning of the planned radio address, Alonso said Gittings will have a far bigger audience.

Meanwhile, Alonso is traveling to Atlantic City tomorrow to address the other union he's clashed with in the past year: the Baltimore Teachers Union, which is having its annual convention there.

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