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Dance tech-savvy or publicity savvy? [Letter]

The high profile announcement of Dallas Dance winning the "2014 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award" by eSchool Media is certainly a curious piece of self-serving publicity. Forget his infamous "fly the plane while it's being built" response to teacher complaints about the gross technological inadequacies in the rollout of the Common Core standards. Forget his unilateral decision to foist an eight-period schedule on the county's high schools. Forget his ill-advised weekend job in Chicago and subsequent admission that he failed to honor the language of his contract.

I don't know who paid for the half-page ad in The Sun praising Mr. Dance. But its use of the word "winner" implies that he has been singled out for distinction. Nowhere is there mention of the fact that seven other superintendents (including former Baltimore County Public Schools administrator Christine Johns) were also selected for the list.

I also find it curious that on February 5, a week after Mr. Dance's selection to the list of honor, BCPS announced a five-year partnership with Discovery Education, Inc., and a personal commitment by the superintendent to deliver the school system into an instructional digital conversion. Although the program will begin modestly in first, second and third grades in 10 "lighthouse schools" next year, Mr. Dance's intent is to have it in place throughout the entire system by the 2017-18 school year. That's an incredible amount of curriculum revision and teacher training to be accomplished in three short years. But fear not: The superintendent is a man of "exemplary leadership and vision!"

The announcement promised "extensive professional development" and creation of a "Teacher Leadership Corps" learning community to "showcase creative ways to motivate students and invigorate the curriculum using the latest innovations." You have to love the superintendent's award-winning gift for creating jargon to sound "tech-savvy." But it is what it is: Another demand being laid at the feet of teachers already overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations from both the state and county offices.

George W. Nellies, Towson

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