By Josh Resnek
The die has been cast by the school committee, so to speak. In Latin that would be: Iacta alia est. That’s what Caesar said before crossing the Rubicon with his legion, entering Rome without the permission of the Senate, and putting an end to Roman Democracy. Everett democracy is not at an end. It is experiencing a long, lazy continuation of everything that has come before with the current vote to begin a search for a new school superintendent.
The reason for this vote to search as put by School Committeewoman Samantha Lambert to the majority of her colleagues is that “you are afraid.”
That’s what she said last week to six of her colleagues who voted to start the search.
None of her colleagues who voted for the measure had anything to say in response except for School Committeeman Mike McLaughlin.
“You’re trying to make this personal,” McLaughlin said in response to the general protest raised by three members of the school committee who felt the start of a search committee was a slap in the face of Everett democracy.
If the vote to get rid of Tahiliani and to begin a search for her successor wasn’t personal, than what was it?
Certainly it was a very public and highly charged vote of no confidence for Superintendent Priya Tahiliani.
She took it well, all things considered.
It takes a great deal of personal fortitude to sit in your superintendent’s seat, better educated, more successful in life, and better suited for the position than anyone voting to remove you – or in this case – to begin the process of removing you.
It also takes a great deal of steel backbone to remain quiet and to dismiss the utter foolishness of the six who are, in actuality, doing someone else’s business.
The new search for a superintendent is about more than foolishness.
It is really about jealousy. It is about ignorance. It is about not caring about the public school children. It has tinges of racism. Sexism. Retaliation. And all those things enumerated in the pending Federal lawsuit the superintendent has filed against the mayor and the school committee alleging nearly all of the above, and in great detail.
The six who voted for beginning the search did so without a word about Tahiliani – and I’ll give Chairman Mike Mangan a pass – he voted for an unarticulated set of falsehoods attributed to the super- intendent believing he was in the middle of a situation and that he was forced to act.
Mangan could have refused to put the measure forward on a point of personal privilege, literally. But he didn’t.
He made a long winded explanation about why the search needed to be started now that went on and on.
No one told Mangan what to do but like the others, he owes his position on the school committee to a combination of higher powers. Even he needs to placate those who try to dislodge him from his elected position.
The collective vote of the others, well, it was more about politics than education, more about getting even than being fair, and ultimately, it was all about personalities.
In the last analysis, Tahiliani is no good to go on with these people because she’s not from Everett, because she made her own decisions and lived by their results, and because she wasn’t about to be bossed around by people who aren’t career educators who don’t know much about education and who, for the most part, act out of deference and political expediency for the wishes of others.
Freedom is very expensive, and Tahiliani is finding this out.
But there is a silver lining.
She can proceed vigorously with her Federal lawsuit that will ultimately cost the city a huge settlement.
She can begin the process, her own process, of deciding what exactly she wants to do with her life at this juncture in the road. She’s been given a strong message that her services are neither wanted nor necessary in the city of Everett public schools.
Any ambiguity she previously felt about the politics of the position immediately coalesced with this decision by the school committee last week.
She now knows clearly where she stands and what she needs to do.
If I were Tahiliani, I’d go from drive into glide and cruise into the coming end.
I would tend to always remember the humiliation she was made to go through last week at the hands of adults who ought to know better – but they just don’t care to know better.
Tahiliani had four years to do her thing.
The vote last week was a travesty, a new low point for Everett politics.
She did a good job and was asked to leave.
Try to figure it out, if you can.
Josh Resnek is the Editor of the Leader Herald. This is a Editorial Commentary.