WHAT A MESS

The I.U. had been operating on a shoestring since the beginning. I had no idea until a couple of months into my tenure how tenuous things really were. One morning, close to Thanksgiving, I got a call from our insurance broker, Gene Burns. He asked me to look into something for him. He told me that his insurance bill for about $19,000 had not yet been paid. I told him that I would get on it quickly. I asked him when he sent us the bill. He told me it was August, not 1982, but 1981. I asked him if he was sure it was a year and some months late. He said he had tried to get someone to pay it, but was not successful.

As it happened, the person responsible for paying the bills and sending in official budgets to the Department of Education was out hunting and could not be reached. Since I had some experience with Department of Education budget forms and such, I went into the office and looked around and found piles of unpaid bills and requests for funds from the Department lying on a filing cabinet, dated July of 1982. I was stunned. How were we surviving when we did not have any money? I did not know where to turn. I called Charlie and Mike into the office. They told me that this was the way we had gotten in trouble in the first place. I calmed down and created a plan of action. I called Gene Burns and told him that he would get both of his bills paid within the next week (the board had already voted to pay them). He was grateful and thanked me.

When the person responsible for the business affairs in the I.U. returned the following day, I called him into the office and presented him with the facts of his actions. He sorrowfully told me that it was all true. I told him that he could not remain as an employee of the Intermediate Unit and would have to submit a letter of resignation immediately. He asked for a few days to meet with his lawyer and then asked if I could meet with both of them. I did meet and worked out a leaving that was acceptable to both sides. I had informed the board ( all 17 of them) of what had happened. Many of them kind of knew something was wrong. Others were astounded that we could continue to operate under those conditions.

What kind of trouble were we in? During the height of interest rates in the country ( sometime in the late 70’s and early 80’s, my predecessor evolved a plan to make things easier for the I.U. He established an account in a bank in a neighboring county. The I.U. would then purchase CDs ( certificates of deposit) or keep money in an interest bearing account there. The interest that was accrued was placed in the account set aside and was used for the I.U. to purchase things whenever they needed anything. The purchases were made and paid for by a check from that account signed by the Assistant I.U. Director. The approval from the I.U. Board was done post facto. Some of the purchases, of automobiles, for instance, were done without bidding.

Someone at the I.U. called the Auditor General and the Department of Education to tell them of this practice. In its final form, there were 35 board members over the years who had voted on these items in the affirmative. The total of all the purchases was about $360,000 and eventually the board members were to pay back the funds as individuals ( not from I.U. money). This became an embarrassment to the organization. To this day, I do not believe that those who created this scenario believe that there was anything wrong with it. However, the Auditor General and the Attorney General and the Department of Education thought that it was illegal.

I had to do something about it. Among my other duties, I researched what had happened and saw no way out. I would get calls from former board members and even the son of one board member who had passed away. I was determined to do something about it. Fortunately for me and those board members, the Secretary of Education at that time was Bob Wilburn a former V.P. of Chase Manhattan Bank, President of Indiana University of PA and former Budget Secretary under Governor Thornburgh. His chief of staff ( that was not his real title) accepted a meeting with me and the I.U. attorney. We pleaded our case and said that we had corrected all the errors that were made, let the chief business official go, hired new auditors and had a decent audit the last time and would do most anything to get these surcharges removed. We left the meeting with no idea what would occur. A week later we were notified that the surcharges were dropped. I had Penny Knight send out a letter to all present and former board members.

There were however two board members who had not voted yes on any of the expenses. One of them had actually voted against me becoming I.U. Director. Strangely enough, both of them-Ray Beichner and Caesar Maruca became some of my strongest advocates. When Caesar passed away a number of years later, the family specifically called and asked me to come to the viewing and funeral. I was happy that I went. I was sad that Caesar was not around any more. He was a really nice guy.

CHARLIE AND MIKE WHAT A PAIR

It’s not enough that I had one of these gentlemen in my life, but two was overwhelming. When I got to the I.U.both Charlie Wall and Mike Vereb had functioned in their jobs for one year for Charlie and 6 years for Mike. Charlie had been a higher up in the Department of Education in Special Ed. Mike had been in the business world for a number of years selling audio visual equipment and materials and had decided to get into education, his first love, in college. They were, and still are two of the most opposite of human beings. Without either of them, my life as an I.U. Director would have been short lived. They also caused me to wonder if I was in my right mind.

Both are absolutely independent, as two human beings can be- Charlie as a frenetic and Mike as the thoughtful Eastern philosopher. Charlie had completely revamped the entire process of special education in his one year at the I.U. When I arrived, he had just begun to convince our constituent school districts to contract with the I.U. to run some of the more complicated special education programs. By the time he left the I.U. six years later, we had contracted for about 85% of the programs. The way special ed. Funding worked, the I.U. got paid before the programs had begun and the school districts did not get paid until two years later. It was a system made to be manipulated and to eventually fail as the state went deeper into debt because of the expansion of special education.

Special education had begun in Pennsylvania with the PARC consent decree in 1972. It was an agreement signed onto by the Governor at that time under pressure from special education parents and other outside groups. Since we were the leaders, we also were the innovators and innovation sometimes cost money. The system was built for someone like Charlie, who himself and his wife Melissa, had adopted a mentally challenged child while working in Kentucky. That child is 46 years old today and still lives with Charlie and Melissa. To say that Charlie had a good heart is a lack of understanding of what he did. He was the premier advocate for special children in the entire state and the I.U. was his experiment in what could be done.

As we continued to grow in special education, the Department of Education noticed that we were contracting with school districts for this service. They began to suspect that something was amiss. They called us in the tell us that something was illegal with what we were doing. We brought with us, three attorneys- our I.U. Attorney Bill Strong, Stinson Stroup, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, and Mark Widoff, a private attorney who was the consumer advocate at one time and a higher up in the a previous Governor’s administration. Aligned against us were the attorneys for the Department of Education and all of their special education people. They told us that we were to cease and desist from contacting. Our attorneys claimed that the school code section about I.U.s clearly stated that we could contract with school districts for services including special education. They were adamant and so were we. The final conclusion was that we were supposed to stop doing what we were doing. Our attorneys concluded that we had the right to continue to contract these services. A letter that concluded this conflict, written by Mark Widoff cited chapter, verse and subsection saying that we were in the right. A number of years later, when Charlie back to the Department of Education, he made contracting a backbone of state policy for special ed.

Mike was a true Western Pennsylvanian. He had been brought up in Munhall, one of the stell producing areas of Allegheny County and was proud of his Eastern European heritage. He had gone to Slippery Rock College ( at that time) and was a pass catching end on the football team. He had married early and produced 4 children. By the time I had gotten to know him, he was divorced and then remarried to a woman who worked at the I.U. Mike did not get along with my predecessor. I have a feeling that their personalities were so misaligned that it was bound to happen. When I arrived there was a memorandum from my predecessor to fire Mike. I often wondered why he did not do it himself.

I found Mike to be one of the most thoughtful people that I had met. He is kind of a gangly aw shucks kind of person who can whip a crowd into a frenzy in the quietest of ways. I have seen him do it when he proposed to an audience of 2000 people in a school gym that we should start our own racetrack in Clarion. He was very aware of the economic problems in our area ( 27% unemployment) and was constantly reading and thinking of how to improve the standard of living. He was more economic development that those who had that as their job. Mike’s job was in the area of a-v, taking care of the building, instructional materials and finally economic development . The state decided in the mid 1980’s to allow us to have an industry/education coordinator. Mike was at the forefront of that activity.

Although Mike was very soft about the things that he did, he constantly ran afoul of those who had the clout in our I.U. , especially in Clarion County. Mike would try and get things going and was stymied by people whose interests were not aligned with his. The chief economic development agency was actually the I.U. We began with 123 employees in 1982 and would up with 500 by 1991. Mike help to begin a pallet company that still exists, provided the inventor of KanKOte ( an impervious material that could be painted onto surfaces to make them waterproof and other proof) an opening for his product. He was a on paid sales force for two farmers who had come up with the idea of low cholesterol eggs, he almost succeeded in getting a toilet bowl manufacturer from Sweden to locate in Clarion County ( using the good offices of Congressman Clinger and Senator John Heinz), did a massive amount of research for the powdered metal industry, tried to get the power structure to locate an outlet mall in Clarion County ( they finally located in Grove City), among so many other things. Mike remains a close friend to this day and when he has a wacky idea, he calls Arnold and we plough through it together.

I learned so much from these two guys. Charlie is now running a residential school for troubled kids in Burlington County N.J. and spends his time at his home on Long Beach Island, following the tides and schools of fish. Mike is still in Clarion County inventing new ways of doing things, managing a motel with his pinky and helping people wherever he can. I was so lucky.

I WORK AT A FIFTEEN MINUTE MOTEL

After a round of going away parties and some tears, our family left Kutztown for Clarion, PA in July of 1982. We had purchased a home there when I went on a number of trips to Clarion. The house was actually situated in a town called Shippenville, population 400. Quite a comedown from our roots in NYC.The town had about 5,000 people plus the college kids up the road. The entire county of Clarion had 40,000 folks. It was so much more rural than Kutztown.

In 1982 there was vast unemployment in the area. Most of the coal companies had shut down, Pennzoil and Quaker State were about to move out. Joy Manufacturing in Franklin had trimmed down so many workers. Joy was one of the premier manufacturers of coal machinery. Later Brockway Glass would see its main office move first to Toledo and then to Jacksonville. I had no idea about any of these things when I moved there.

Moose and Doo entered into Clarion Area Junior Senior High School. The Superintendent of Schools was Joe Fotos, who became one of my best friends. He lived across the street from me and was constantly out there doing lawn and yard work. It was a pleasant neighborhood. It was so very different from Kutztown. The intermediate unit area of 3,000 square miles was almost entirely rural. The closest city was Pittsburgh or Erie, about 2 hours away. The historical background of the area was mostly single entrepreneurs starting coal companies, natural gas companies and single manufacturing centers, such as Brockway Glass and Owens Illinois.

I should have known something was wrong with the I.U. In the first week of work, I was driving to the office when a log truck coming in the opposite direction flung a log into my windshield. I was driving a Monte Carlo and the log hit the windshield and about a quarter of an inch of the surrounding metal. Had it come right through the windshield I would not be penning this opus. I was quite bewildered. It happened so quickly. I was just sitting in the car finally realizing that I had just escaped with my life. A state trooper quickly came by. His first question to me was “Where is the log?” He continued to ask me and I said, I was too damned scared to notice where it went after it hit my windshield. He and his companion scurried off into the underbrush at the side of the road to look for the log. He never asked me how I was doing. By this time a crowd had gathered to gawk. I decided for my own good to start the car up again and go the half mile to the office.

When I got there, the office was already aware of what had happened. They were all most solicitous and my secretary, Penny Knight ( still a friend after 28 years) looked as if someone had hit her in the face with some flour. Her face was that white. I sat down in my office and composed myself. I needed a tour around the building to keep me from getting panicky. I got up and went round to all of my employees who were in the building and told them that I was fine. I even managed to get a joke or two in about being done in by a renewable natural resource.

As I walked around the building, with its red flocked carpet and cheap wallboard that this was not a regular office building. In fact, when the I.U.s were formed in 1970, the county school boards did not want it to exist and decided that it would not last. So, they did two things. They rented an old motel that had been vacant for some time and named the I.U. Clarion Manor, the former name of the hotel. That name brought on snickers from some of the locals, who knew it as a fifteen minute hotel, with lots of comings and goings. It was a joke perpetrated by those who established the I.U. and was a signal to the school districts, the state and local community that the I.U. was nothing to take seriously.

From 1971 to 1982, the I.U. functioned as a kind of wraithlike entity of 3000 square miles, with little to recommend it and no real impact on the school districts that it served. My experience in the Berks County I.U. was just the opposite. The founders of the Berks County I.U. and its first Director ( who was still there when I arrived), took the I.U. very seriously and lobbied for programs from the state and ran many district programs. Carol had even worked for the Berks County I.U. as a teacher of gifted.

Clarion Manor I.U. had given back special education funds to the state for a number of years. This money then went to other, sometimes less deserving I.U.s. in the Eastern part of the state. That was soon all to change (as well as the name) with results that led to a lawsuit that would encompass the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

PANACEA PALACE

Ideational fluency is the ability to come up with new ideas over a short period of time. There are even tests that measure one’s ability to do that. I believe that it is the public capacity to verbalize or pen new ideas that creates a certain aura around people. The more difficult task is to create a whole cloth, a unity, from disparate parts of the human universe of activities. The great thinkers in history had that capacity. If you reada  philosopher of your liking, you will see that he/she has molded their treatises from many different places and people. Even things like Einstein’s Unified Field Theory combines thinking from many branches of science ( physics mostly) and makes them into a cogent whole.

So where am I going with this? Educational bandwagons have always been lacking in a recognition that learning is not a single faceted endeavor. A simple example might be the phonics movement in the 1990’s. While it may be true that taking chunks of words and applying their pronunciation to other words with those chunks is a good method of teaching certain children. It is certainly not an accommodation to many other children. Human beings are quite complicated. They learn in a number of ways- visual, auditory, kinesthetically, and maybe combinations of the three.

So the phonics bandwagon goes away to be replaced with other bandwagons of equally singular ways of teaching reading. These panaceas may come back into view twenty years later with a new name and different coloration. We then are bombarded with new reasons to teach reading phonetically and go through the Hegelian dialectic- thesis, antithesis and if we are lucky- synthesis.

We have even gone through a number of iterations of “ Our Country does poorly in education” and look to other countries around the world. Whereas at the beginning of public education in the 1840’s we looked rather shabby in comparison to the French and British model, we now try and stack ourselves up to China ( lots of experts trekking over there to see how they do it), Finland, Singapore, India or others. All of these comparisons tend to come out as anti-American. Why in East Frabning, all of their students are on reading level and math level and they send over 200% of their graduates to university.”

We then are faced with another panacea- high stakes testing, or choice, or charter schools, or focused literacy. We never catch up to these countries on paper and very few people look into this phenomenon very deeply. Why should anyone do that when just skimming the surface will get you to create a new program that will solve all of our ills.
Our panaceas extend far beyond the rudimentary task of teaching children how to read and do math. Public education is the citadel of social change for our entire country. Both liberals and conservatives sing that tune and argue over what panaceas can fix- teenage pregnancy, smoking, drugs ( remember scared straight), working moms, latchkey children, poverty, violence, hunger and so many more. It amuses me when I hear friends ( not in the trade) say to me- “ Why can’t the schools teach how to fill out a tax return, teach kids to be thrifty, let them know about insurances.” The answer is that we are too buy extricating ourselves from the previous panacea. Want us to take care of single mothers? Something has to give.

The distance between panaceas and zealotry is very short. When the progenitor of the latest silver bullet for education is created and enters on the fringes of the mainstream, zealots latch on and insist that nothing could be better than their system. Sadly, our educational leaders, educational philosophers and political people pick up on these new things and clutch them to their collective breasts. Whatever has happened before is suddenly suspect when the XYZ program sees the light of day. All former panaceas are dropped ( even if they have wide appeal and, in some cases, successful) or are put aside ( to be reinvented 20 years later). National scholars get down to the serious study of the new program. Critics of the program are seen as blinded fools or reactionaries. How can you not see the value to this wonderful invention? The chorus becomes so loud, that only the very brave continue to speak out and ask such limiting questions such as, “ Where has this been in place? What data shows that it is successful over time? What are the variables that make this program appropriate for all students in all public schools?

The responders get to write their well chosen questions on the back of the Phi Delta Kappan magazine, or speak to small clutches of interested people at national conventions. Their papers are disregarded until the time when something happens. This could be the failure of the program to do what it says it can do, or a political figure comes out with the latest panacea. It is a change of administration and the XYZ program was installed by the previous executive branch people and has not worked at all. Maybe the program could have worked if it were imbedded with the regular curriculum for a while, but alas- no huge tryout period is permitted.

It amazes me that we do so well for a country that has the patience of a flea. We are still producing world class Nobel prize winners, far in excess of all developed countries. We still have the most productive workers in the world and the world’s strongest economy. Irrespective of our problems with immigration, what other country in the world could absorb 12 million illegal aliens and still march forward. Thought you’d like to see some of those panaceas. These are just some that came to mind. There are so many more. You can add those that you can think of.

Educational Panaceas
Madeline Hunter       Charter Schools              Teacher Expectation for Students
TQM                                      ISO 9000                     Business Model
ITA                                      Portfolio Assessment    Authentic Assessment
Value Added Assessment   Multi-Cultural Education   Referendum
A Nation At Risk                     The Conant Report                   The Sandia Study
Performance Objectives                             Standards-Based Education                           Essential Schools
Block Scheduling                      Writing to Read                                     Whole Language
Character Education                   Structural Lingustics                    New Math
New Science                                   Vouchers                                 Large Group/Small Group
Summerhill                 Peer Coaching                               Effective Schools
Critical Thinking                  Brain Teaching                          Site-Based Management
Strategic Planning                          Long-Range Planning                            Scope and Sequence
Cultural Literac                                 y Home Schooling                          Cyber Education
Accountability                                     Moral Education                                     Assessment Strategies
Non-gradedness                                    Restructuring                        Global Education
Shared Decision Making                                       Cognitive Development                           Back to Basics
Magnet Schools                              Distance Education                            Technology
Self-Esteem                            Cooperative Learning                              Service Learning
Lead Teacher                                   Curriculum Compaction                           Channel One
Intensive Scheduling                                              Teaching to the Test                              TIMSS
Dropout Prevention                                        Leaning Contracts                            Assertive Discipline
NAEP                           Interdisciplinary Design                         Learning Centered School
Teacher Empowerment                                     Instructional Leadership                Teacher Centers
School Based Management                  The Empowered Manager                   Bilateral Decision Making
Effective Instructional Management                       Grass Roots Management             Mentor Teachers
The Copernican Plan                          Developmental Model (ODOM)              National Diffusion Network (NDN)
STAR schools               Team Planning                        Supplemental Learning Centers
Flexible Scheduling                           Modular Scheduling                      Core Curriculum
Collaborative Teaching                        Looping                           Clinical Supervision
Interactive Analysis       Paideia Proposal Teacher Assisting and Coaching
Writing Across the Curriculum                         Intergenerational Education                  BSCS Biology
Mini-Courses                        Competency Based Education                   Career Education
Statewide School Reform                              Kitchen Science                    Gifted Education
Instructional Support Teams                        Mainstreaming                   Logical consequences discipline
Human Relations Programs                              High Stakes Testing                Peer Mentoring
Native Language Instruction                        Adequacy                        Equity
Bilingual Education                            Clinical Intervention                         Measurement Driven Instruction
Merit Pay                               School/Business Partnerships                       School to Work
Outcomes Based Education                              Teacher Internships in Business                Sex Education
The Carnegie Report                                Privatization                          Community Schools
No Child Left Behind                       Every School a Good School                  Education Quality Assessment
TELLS             TELS                              PSSA
EHAB                             IDEA                         Head Start
Small School Reform                                  Consolidation                         Regional Service Agencies
PVASS (value added)                                Keystone Exams                        Standards
Health Education                               Nutrition Education                           Outcome-Based Education
Race to the Top                           Community School                                s 2+2+2
Small High School Movement                                      Focused Literacy                        State Takeovers
Transformations      On Line learning

MY TREK THROUGH JUDAISM

John Shropshire, the former Dean of Admissions at Clarion University, my neighbor and my friend in Clarion, once told me a pertinent piece of information. When an African American walks into a room of white people, the conversations stop. When a Jew walks into a room, the conversations just keep on going. It did not take me long to figure that one out. Being African American is obvious, being Jewish is not.

My adventures with Judaism go back to my days in Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva on the lower East Side of Manhattan. It was a super Orthodox school. I wore the yarmulke, had pais ( long curly sideburns) and wore tzi-tzis ( under prayer shawl with string hanging out). There were no doubts as I walked on the streets that I was a Jew. I spoke Yiddish pretty much all of the time at home to Grandma ( and Grandpa when he took me to services). I was as observant a little boy as I could possibly be. I was, however, not really all that interested in the trappings of Judaism. As a child you always wanted black and white answers. Judaism had more questions than answers ( and still does). It must be nice to be in a religion that pretty much has all of the answers to the mysteries of life. I was really not taught that way. By the time 7th grade came, and we were studying the commentaries on the bible ( gamarrah), I was a full blown skeptic.

I trudged through my Bar Mitzvah and happily gathered the fountain pens and money that was given to me ( all of about 50 dollars) and ended my formal relationship with the religion.

My high school was filled with Jewish kids, all older and smarter than me, other than Stephen Schucker who was the youngest kid in the class at 15. However, Steve went to Harvard and I went to Queens College. My time in the service had some sporadic events that concerned Judaism ( A Texan would not believe I was Jewish because I did not have horns). I believe that I did not go to Temple from the first week of basic training till I got out of the service. I don’t believe that I went to shul till our children were born and a few years later. That’s about 17 years of non-observance and a distance from my religion. I never denied that I was Jewish at any of my jobs or social situations. I had pretty much decided that the formal part of the religion meant nothing to me.

That all changed when we moved to Kutztown. As our kids got older, we took them to a Temple in Allentown for Hebrew School and later Bar/Bat Mitzvah training. The Temple was Reform and the Rabbis were down to earth people. I liked each one of them. Their basic characteristics did not allow them to push their beliefs unto others, but just to explain the history, ritual and philosophy of Judaism. This was a far cry from the injection of orthodoxy that I had as a kid. The rituals were familiar, but not imposed by people on high. I became a bit less antipathetic to the religious aspects of Judaism. I was kind of looking at the religion as an adult with many questions to be answered and more interest in finding them.

By the time we left Kutztown to go to Clarion, Marc had been Bar Mitvahed and Dara was on the threshold of her Bat Mitzvah. We actually had her Bat Mitzvah in Allentown while we lived in Clarion. Dara had taken most of her instruction before we left. They both did a bang up job and we were proud of them. The ceremonies were attended by our families and we had a home made reception at the synagogue courtesy of Carol and some friends.

When we got to Clarion we looked around for a synagogue.There was one in Oil City, about 25 miles away. Oil City had been a thriving oil town for many years. It was then the home of Quaker State and Pennzoil. It was at the end of their tenure there and things were beginning to go downhill. The congregation in the synagogue was most peculiar. The traits of some of the members were rather strange. There was a president for life person, a woman who believed that bridges were useless and we should all use jetpacks, a beer distributor who was accused of watering his beer and a junk yard owner who had gone to MIT with a 1600 on his SATs ( only to last one semester). This was a really interesting group of people.

The Rabbi was from the old school and I really mean the old school. He had spent the years in WWII in Japan. He had escaped the old country and gone East. You may know that the Japanese refused to give any Jews to Hitler when he asked for them. Rabbi Goldberg was so old fashioned that we had to stand when he entered the sanctuary. He was the only person that I ever head say that from now on aluminum foil would be kosher. He had so many rules and regulations that we could not keep up. Carol and another woman Barbara Gold got on the board and eventually saw to it that Rabbi Goldberg entered into retirement. However, what we did not know was that President for life had arranged for Rabbi Goldberg to remain in town, so that he could come back to the rabbinate when the new person failed. How’s that for planning?
And so it came to pass that we went out on a search for a new Rabbi. The number of applicants was sparse. We came up with a total of three candidates. President for life did the reference checks and we hired Rabbi Lorenzo Lunatic ( not his real name). He arrived in town and claimed that his car had been severely damaged on the way in. One of our members, an auto parts dealer looked at the car and could not see anything wrong. Rabbi Lunatic pointed to a scratch on one of the bumpers and exclaimed, “ I was almost killed in the collision.” Some of us knew that there was something really wrong with Rabbi Lunatic. What we found out later confirmed all of our suspicions.

I AM REJECTED BY THE BEST

When I got the superintendency of Kutztown in 1977 there were 144 applicants. Things are very different today. If a well established school district gets 20 applications, they are lucky. Many school districts in the more rural parts of the state get less than 10. That means that the pool of applicants are shrinking dramatically. It’s that way across the country. The job has become less than attractive with all of the pressures that come with it.

In the early 1980’s it was a far different story. School districts had a choice of many good candidates. In Pennsylvania, 9% of all teachers had an administrative certificate. Currently that number is below 3%. As teacher salaries have improved, working 12 months as an administrator is not so attractive, given the downside of the jobs. I was enthused about the job that I had in Kutztown, but realized that I had done pretty much all that I could do to help it get better. The construction of the junior high school, the rewriting of the curriculum, the improvement in the taxation and finances of the district were pretty much settled. I was getting itchy.

I was not in a stable of any of the national headhunters, or even the Pennsylvania people. However, I did have a meeting with Dr. Carroll Johnson of Columbia University at the American Association of School Administrators Conference in New Orleans in 1980. He said that I would be getting some feelers from some top notch districts. He was correct. I was contacted by the Beverly Hills School District and asked if I was interested. I was thrown for a loop- Kutztown to Beverly Hills. I did some research on the district and discovered that the board did not want the new supe to live in the district. I had kind of promised myself that I would never be that much of a carpetbagger and not live in the district in which I was administrator. I called Dr. Johnson and asked him why they did not want me to live there. He told me that the board knew that there was no way that I could afford to live there even with the large salary they were paying. They would, however, allow my children to attend tuition free. I figured that this was not going to be a good situation, even if I got the job. I pulled out.

I had some interesting interviews along the way to my next job. The superintendent of a school district in South central PA., was the former business manager in Bristol Township. He called and asked that I apply. I was flattered and sent in my papers. The head hunter for this job was a well known person in PA and knew something about me. I did not bother to call him and get the scoop. The interview was disastrous. I got into a shouting match with one of the board members who disagreed with most everything that I said. The other 8 board members kept absolutely silent. This went on for about 30 minutes. By the time I finished, I was exhausted. Fortunately, Carol was there outside waiting to drive me home. On the way out, I told the search consultant never to put me into a situation like that again. He told me to wait while he spoke to the board. He came back in five minutes and told me that they loved me and wanted me back. I told him that there was such a wide philosophical difference, that there would most certainly be some fisticuffs at some future meeting.

A few months later a good friend of mine called and told me that he was interviewing at the same school district. This was a man who had a hair trigger temper. I told him that it was foolish of him to apply. He said that from all that he heard, it was a good district and he could really be happy there. I warned him that with his temper, the interview would go poorly. This had been the third go around for this board. They had gone out on a search 3 times and had not run into anyone that either wanted them or that they wanted. My friend, I was told later by him, went to the interview and got into the same kind of situation that I did. However, he went one step beyond me and attacked the nasty board member who was so rude to me. Fortunately, there were no recriminations. Eventually, they did hire some local person for the job, who fit in well with the board’s philosophy.

All of my other applications fell on sightless eyes. I got some interviews, reached the finals a number of times, but never made it to the top. Most of the advertisements in PA are listed in something put on by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. They actually do a number of searches on their own. Our son Marc, was looking through the listings and saw a job as Executive Director of the Clarion Manor Intermediate Unit. I.U.s were created in 1971 to replace county offices and divide the state into 29 service areas. The I.U.s were supposed to help schools act jointly in such areas as special education, joint purchasing, other joint services, etc. By 1982 a number of I.U.s were flourishing and many of the rural I.U.s were floundering. Clarion Manor was one of those that were going under.

My interview in Clarion, PA happened in the Spring of 1982. I actually had an interview after the one in Clarion. Carol was toured around the county and saw, what she saw, were a number of nice looking restaurants and a pleasant town with a university. It looked, or seemed to look, like Kutztown- with a state college, nice little stores and a number of nice restaurants. My future secretary, Penny Knight, drove Carol around and it was much later on that they had passed the same restaurant a number of times from different angles.

The interview was as pleasant and as comprehensive as it could be. There were some really serious problems and the board members wanted to know how I might fix them. I gave them as honest as answer as I could. They seemed to enjoy the colliquoy and we stood around talking long after the interview. I left feeling that I had done a good job and hoped that they would call me soon. They did, next day and Penny asked me if I would want the job. I said that I would and closed a chapter in our lives.

MOOSE AND DOO

This is probably the most difficult thing that I will pen. I can write about myself – be self-effacing, witless, conceited, all-knowing and a downright blowhard, but when I write about my children I am bathed in their substance. Our son Marc, we have called him Moose since he was about two, and Dara, whom we have called the Doo (from Strangers in the Night by Frank Sinatra- doobie, doobie doo) since before I can remember. They are Carol’s and my pride and joy ( lucky there are two of them). We were joyful when we finally had Marc . We had been trying to have a child for a while. Dara was a wonderful surprise with her jet black hair and long nails when she was born.

It’s impossible for people to believe that we are as overjoyed by their presence now in their 40’s as we were then when they were born. We still spend tons of time on the phone and in person, hysterical about happenings and going over past hysterias. There is nothing more loving then to hear Carol on the phone with either of them laughing uproariously at something that they have said about their own children, their comings and goings, their jobs, their businesses , their spouses or something that they heard on the laugh channel or Oldjewstellingjokes.com. It’s the same way that it was when they were growing up. We have a video of them when Dara was four and Marc was six- both laughing at a tv show and making funny faces and going wild. They were a joy then and they are a joy now.

We have always been a unit, as I have mentioned previously. That has resulted in many in-jokes and “remember whens.” Marc is the historian. When I need to remember the name of the President of the Bank in Fleetwood, he remembers that it is Craig Wagaman. When Carol tries to recall the name of a place that we have been to, we call Marc. Dara remembers people and feelings. She is about people in the broadest sense. She will help anyone out that she runs across that needs help- whether emotional or logistical. Marc, on the other hand tries to figure out how he can help people by sending them to school, getting them jobs and works with them to a conclusion. They are so different, yet so much the same.

They still see each other as often as they can, living about an hour away. Dara went to Clark University and majored in psychology while Marc went to Penn State and majored in human resources. Dara and her husband David have three children- ages 14, 11 and 9 and Marc and his wife Jacy ( short for Jacqueline) have two kids-ages 8 and 5. Are they all handsome, beautiful, smart and athletic? You bet they are, or I would not have mentioned them.

Moose has had some really hard times in his work life. He has always been a motor head and in his junior year at Penn State, applied for and got an internship at General Motors in Tarrytown, N.Y. He lived and worked there for a Summer and was told he had a job after he graduated the following year. He therefore, did not apply anywhere else. When Spring came, he called GM and they told him that they were firing 5,000 people at the plant and that he would not have a job.

He then sent out his resume to 267 companies. This was as bad a time in 1990, as it is today. There were vast numbers of layoffs and few jobs for graduates. Without going into gory details. Marc worked at a car rental agency, repossessed furniture in a particularly bad part of Miami, managed a Burger King and transported work release prisoners to the Burger King at 5 in the morning. He also visited with the Director of Human Resources of GM in Flint Michigan who told Marc that he could not even get a job for his own son. He worked as a computer temp, as well as other jobs. He finally caught on with Verizon in the call center business. That has been his career since then. He is now a major player in setting up call centers for the 2010 census.

Marc is always looking for something better and is ambitious in a very quiet way. There are still parts of the Moose that I do not understand. Fortunately, he knows me well and we still are great pals.

Dara graduated from Clark and went to work for Ames Department store. She had a full time job while she was in college at an upscale furniture store. That was her spending money. In her sophomore year, she met this guy David and did not realize he was Jewish until three months after they were dating. After all, Marc was the only Jewish boy she knew and David was nothing like that. David had no idea Dara was Jewish. She lived in rural Western PA and all the Jewish girls he knew were nothing like her.

They were married in 1992 and Dara worked at Jenny Craig managing a number of stores , while David finished his graduate degree at University of Buffalo.They moved to the D.C. area where David got a job with Price Waterhouse. Dara had temp jobs while there. She became pregnant and had the first of her three children in 1996. She has maintained her job as the only paid employee of the American Graphic Artists Association- D.C. branch and runs her own jewelry business, besides taking care of the needs of her family. The creative side of Doo comes right from her mom’s side of the family and goes back four generations.

Things are reverting to the old days recently, as Carol and I are sort of winding down our work life and spending more time with Marc and Dara’s families. It is a joy to see more of them and their spouses and children. We delight in playing the Grandma, Grandpa role. We go to ball games for all of the kids, sometimes go to school and see them in performances or just in their classes ( after all we are still educators). We watch them grow and take on their own attributes. We sit quietly sometimes and both talk about how lucky we have been in our lives to have had such great kids. Attaway Moose and Doo.