Friday, May 14, 2010

Worcester Public Schools and the Kansas City Royals.

The Kansas City Royals fired manager Trey Hillman after a 12-23 start to the 2010 season.  For his career, he was 152-207 as a manager for the worst team in baseball.  Hillman was the 13th Royals manager since the orgainization's last postseason appearance in 1985.  During that 25 years of futility, the Royals only had 7 seasons over .500.  There is something wrong in Kansas City, and it isn't the managers.  (Side note if you're a sports fan- take the time to read through Joe Posnanski's blog.  He's one of my favorite sports writers.)  That sort of futility shows that there are problems with the organization, its ownership, and the way Major League Baseball is structured.

So why fire the manager?  I believe it's a cosmetic move to let fans know that something is being done to solve the problem.  The Royals have been rebuilding and developing minor league talent since the mid 1990's.  In 2003, Tony Pena managed the team to a winning record, surprising the baseball world.  The next year, the Royals were the same old Royals, and the following season, Tony Pena was fired.  (Where did Tony Pena end up?  As the bench coach for the Yankees.  No wonder the Yankees haven't won a World Series Championship this millenium...wait, never mind, damnit!)

The problem in Kansas City lies in its front office.  Their ownership hasn't hired a general manager that has been able to develop good major league talent and retain it.  Due to the payroll cutting tendencies of David Glass (CEO of Walmart), the Royals have struggled since 1993 to field a winning team.  Whatever talent the Royals have developed has been traded away for less value because of the Royals' cost cutting business model.  How can this organizational incompetence be Trey Hillman's fault or any of their managers' fault?

Three years from now, David Glass will probably end up firing current manager Ned Yost.  Ownership will say that this time, the 'new' manager that will bring pride, titles and fans back to Kauffman Stadium.

Why am I writing about the Kansas City Royals?  Perhaps it's because I liked their teams in the early '80's.  Perhaps it is because I enjoy watching Zack Greinke pitch.  Perhaps it's because I'm still bitter they fired Tony Pena after 2+ seasons despite Tony winning the 2003 AL Manager of the Year with a team of nobodies.  Perhaps it is because David Glass owns the team, and I dislike Walmart.
Perhaps it is because this situation reminds me of this story.  I'm not saying the public schools are as incompetent as the Kansas City Royals.  I believe the changes at Chandler Elementary, Union Hill, and now Clark Street are cosmetic changes just like the firing of Trey Hillman and the hiring of Ned Yost in Kansas City.

Neither Mark Berthiaume or Denise Bahosh had the solutions for societal barriers to education that exist outside of Chandler Elementary or Union Hill.  I doubt that either Marie Morse or June Eressy will be able to raise test scores quicker than the previous principals within the three years they have to turn around Chandler Elementary and Union Hill.  The idea that improving education is a race and a competition ignores the reality that educating the entire populace is far more complex than new leadership or a new assessment test.  What happens in the school can be stymied by larger societal forces outside school- poverty, apathy, ignorance, unemployment, language barriers.  Education isn't a business, nor can the business model pertain to educating everyone in the public schools  (Jeff says it best here.) 

In 2013, I hope I don't have to read a story about Principals Morse and Eressy being fired or replaced because they couldn't raise test scores in underfunded inner city schools quick enough to please  politicians and bureaucrats and give voters a sense that something is being done to solve the problem.

After I'm done reading about the fate of our schools, I'll flip to the Sports section and see that the Royals have a new manager....again.

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