The New School Board Must Deliver

Cathy Nichols-Washer - SuperintendentLodi Unified’s newly constituted School Board, must now deliver on their promises or risk damaging their own credibility “from the get”.  In short, they must do what needs to be done…fire the Superintendent at their first meeting.  Let me walk that back a step or two, I want to appear polite and civil:  The new board must request that Dr. Cathy Nichols-Washer make a severe career adjustment.  There, that’s better.

Dr. Washer’s removal was “the” number one issue for everyone who ran for the Board. There was a complete consensus among both winners and losers in the last election: “The wheel has turned and it is time for Dr. Washer to go.”  In many ways, every vote cast was a vote of no confidence in the current board and their hand selected administrative leader.  Even Dr. Washer got the hint, as reported in the Lodi News-Sentinel (Mr. Davis) a board member of nearly 20-years said:  “With this new group coming in [meaning the newly elected gang of five] I would expect Cathy Washer to start looking for work elsewhere.” And, as it turns out, she is;  she is going for the ‘hat trick’ …first Tracy, then Lodi, now Lincoln in Stockton.

Yes, it has been widely reported that Dr. Washer is in the hunt for the top spot at Lincoln Unified.  In doing so, Dr. Washer has put a new value on her services:  $140,000 and about $12,000 in perks.  Still not a bad deal, heck Lincoln School District has less than 9,000 students total; LUSD, has a student population of nearly 30,000.  Sounds like, she’d be taking about a one-third cut in pay to administrate about two-thirds less of district.

The Lodi News-Sentinel did a ‘down and dirty’ analysis of why George Neely, Bonnie Cassels, Ron Heberle, Ruth Davis and Mike Abdullah were elected.  Trouble is, it didn’t make much sense.  LNS said they were elected because they were all teachers and went on-and-on from there.  Well, it might be a little more complex than that.  After all the biggest vote getter, Mr. Heberle, is a fireman not a teacher.  LNS’s other theory seemed to imply that because the five successful candidates were endorsed by the Lodi Education Association (the teacher’s union), that’s why they won.  However, they endorsed Khydeeja Javid and she was among the lowest vote getters, and, not a teacher.  Whereas Ruth Davis beat Ms. Javid easily she did not receive LEA’s endorsement notwithstanding the fact that she’d been a teacher for over 20-years.  Go figure.

I have another theory [a phenomena that explains something we call reality].  As Einstein once said:  “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”  The most persistent reality is that everyone who was running for Lodi’s School Board openly blamed Lodi’s Superintendent, Dr. Cathy Washer for the many failures the District has endured during her tenure.  Golly, who would have ever thought we’d be pining for the good old days of Bill Huyett?  At least he smiled once in a while.

LNS also openly implied that the teacher’s union should be given credit for the outcome of the election.  Aside from what I have already mentioned, I should also mention that the word on the street is, most teachers do not know why they are paying their union a hundred bucks a month given the fact they were the group who got them clobbered at the negotiating table.  After you add, subtract, divide and take the square root then you swing a big blue chicken around your head, you end up with a very bad deal for the teachers.  In point of fact, our Lodi teachers got “the worst deal” in concessions and pay cuts in the entire State.

Our teachers got hit to the tune of somewhere between 6.2% and 6.4% nearly 2% more than any District in the area.  Maybe, just maybe the new board can take a good hard look at that extra 2% cut and find an alternative away from the classroom.  I mean, what were selling here is teaching and learning not creampuff jobs at ESC or the Attorney’s Employment Act of 2010.  Hey, did you know that during Cathy Washer’s tenure that the district paid out more than $7,000,000 to attorneys.  What a coincidence, that’s about 2% of the teacher’s money…could there be a connection?  Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out [at some later date] the teachers were made to pay to keep the administrator’s negligence under the cloak of legally confidential settlements and quiet settlements.

Back to the question at hand, what should the Board do next?  In my opinion, the new board needs to feel our pain, follow through with their promises and earn the trust that has been so badly damaged by former occupants of those chairs.  We’ve seen enough backroom deals, we have seen enough folks talking out of both sides of their mouths, and we’ve seen enough shady deals caused by opaque obfuscation or outright lies. We all (everyone of us) wants to see good, honest leadership that supports the notion that morale among teachers and parents directly affects all of Lodi Unified’s children, all 29,500 of them.  That’s why Washer has to go now!

As far as Dr. Washer’s next move, possibly to Lincoln for the bargain basement price of $140,00 plus, plus, plus…I say, let’s wish her all the best.  In fact, lets get a hold of the Lincoln Board and tell them that we (the community of Lodi) will be more than happy to pay the first year of Dr. Washer’s salary if they will take her off our hands by Thanksgiving (aka: Turkey Day).  I am sure we can find some polished professional apologist who can assure the Lincoln Board that all the talk that our superintendent is cold, arrogant, imperious, purposely vague, self-entitled and purposely offensive to all of us peons, is merely the illusion Einstein spoke of and not reality.  Good luck?

We just cannot let Lincoln find out about that whole leadership thing.  I am fearful the whole deal could implode if they know that nobody and I mean nobody had any confidence in her as their leader.  I am afraid that there is not enough bonus money, parting gifts or direct bribes that will convince Lincoln that bargain basement failure is a good way to go.  After all, there can be no leadership unless there is some ‘followership.’

Back to my original point.  Every day the ‘new board’ does not take action, everyday they postpone the inevitable, they weaken themselves because they weaken their leadership and credibility.  Please remember, you were elected because you promised to ‘make changes at the top.” Now, please make them.

By Parson Boyles

About LODI360 Editor

Keith Colgan is the Editor of and owner of Keith Colgan Photography


3 thoughts on “The New School Board Must Deliver

  1. In the entire time Cathy Washer has been LUSD’s Superintendent she has visited our campus twice. On both occasions, she spent less than five minutes and introduced herself to not one teacher, parent or student. Now, she sends out memos to the teachers as if she knew us. Too late lady!

    Posted by Rathernotsay | November 17, 2010, 9:02 am
  2. Correction in your story: Dr. Washer was from Manteca not Tracy…however, you were right….we were happy that she moved on to Lodi. Nothing’s changed, her disposition is reflected in her “I am better than you” attitude.
    I’d like someone to ask her to rattle off her 10 best student experiences while at Lodi…betcha she can’t name 2.

    Posted by Greg Davis | November 16, 2010, 4:22 pm
  3. Yep. Washer and her “cabinet” must be shown the door immediately. If Lodi’s new school board can’t boot Washer soon they will damage their credibility. I don’t know for sure, however, being a former employee of LUSD, it sounds like this guy has done his homework. As a former District teacher [I left willingly] now working in Elk Grove, I always wondered if we were subsidizing the LUSD’s inability to do things by the book.

    Posted by Denise | November 16, 2010, 1:40 pm

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