by Pamela Powers Hannley
With his six-figure contract up for renewal soon, why is controversial Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Superintendent John Pedicone missing the June 12 TUSD Board meeting? He has better things to do... like taking a two-week junket to Korea to learn more about how to run a school system.
After all, Pedicone does like to travel ... often... and play golf on week days. And, then, there are the consulting trips. Yes, apparently, his $300,000+ salary is not enough to make ends meet, so he does consulting work on the side. In July, he has a consulting trip coming up, but no one is exactly sure where he is going this time or how long he will be gone or who of the TUSD staff may be going with him; all the board knows is that he will be gone. (Kinda reminds me of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman: "What? Me worry?" Or Nero... fiddling while Rome burns.)
If Mexican American author and educator Dr. Rudy Acuna is right in this interview on The Lou Show, Pedicone has nothing to worry about because his pals in high places may save him when contract renewal time comes around.
Acuna theorizes that Pedicone was installed as TUSD superintendent by his Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC, AKA Tucson's 1%) buds to kill the district, thus clearing the way for them to make more money on charter schools.
Of course, maybe SALC no longer needs Pedicone as superindentent because he has sufficiently hurt the district during his short tenure. Rumor has it that even more parents and students fled the district in 2011-12 than ever before.
I'd love to be a fly on the wall during Pedicone's performance appraisal-- particularly this year when three board seats are up for re-election.
A Picture of White Flight from TUSD
TUSD enrollment figures show that the percentage of white students in the district has declined steadily (below). In the 1996-97 school year, the district was 45.5% white and 41.8% Hispanic, with the remainder made up of the other races. By 2010-11, the percentage of white students in TUSD had dropped to 28.9% and the Hispanic proportion has risen to 56.2%. Overall enrollment in TUSD also declined during this time period. The percentages of Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans did not change significantly. [Graphic by Pamela Powers Hannley. Data source: TUSD.]