New London athletes and coaches are accountable to each other and their town ... the way the higher-ups should be
New London — This is reminiscent of the cathartic scene in the movie “Network,” where Peter Finch goes volcanic.
“So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window,” he said, “open it, and stick your head out, and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore.’”
Anyone else want to join me?
Because I’ve had enough of the New London educational hierarchy’s betrayal of the kids, teachers, building administrators and city residents.
The latest example came earlier this week with this sudden “rush” to get shovels in the ground to build the new high school before state funding runs out. This project has floated longer in limbo than many marriages last. It was once purported to be the Taj Mahal that’s barely going to be an American Legion hall.
Is this what city residents honestly voted for?
Now the project’s intelligentsia believe that fixing the high school track is enough to fool the state into thinking that any real progress has been made as Amateur Hour rolls on into a mini-series.
I can’t take it.
Not one more day.
Because as someone who is in and out of New London schools frequently, I see progress, almost as much as I see quiet desperation. I see kids and teachers and administrators holding each other accountable every day in spite of heedless, rudderless leadership above them.
And so I ask: Who holds New London’s educational hierarchy accountable for its actions?
It’s like the story my friend John Spinnato likes to tell about his old boss, M.J. Sullivan.
“M.J. would call me every Saturday at 4. Clockwork,” Spinnato said. “We would talk about what happened that week at the dealership. And I better have had some answers. He reinforced my work ethic.”
Maybe now we know why M.J. has run one of the most successful and enduring car dealerships — and businesses overall — in the history of the city.
Tell me: Who is Central Office’s M.J. Sullivan?
Who is the Board of Education’s M.J. Sullivan?
Because I’m sure if M.J. were in charge of this school project and saw $98 million swirling the bowl, he’d hold someone accountable for “progress” that’s come slower than an arthritic snail.
I mean, it was nice to see a few city councilors asking questions the other night. But if there’s no follow up, we get what we always get in New London: blustering, bloviating, blathering … and betrayal.
I’ll take the prism of athletics this winter as an example of why the kids, coaches, teachers and administrators illustrate accountability so much more capably than the ones who command bigger bucks.
The girls’ basketball team isn’t merely undefeated, but has a team grade point average of 3.5. The coach, Holly Misto, is a doctor, doing the role model thing: pointing the kids toward the right choices. The staff features Missy Parker, a teacher in the system, whose dedication to the kids in this city is barely matched.
The wrestling team won its division within the conference. It not only features some eclectic kids — Luis Rodriguez-Veras also sings in the New London Youth Talent Show — but is a byproduct of the successful youth program in the city. The youth program comes thanks to the diligence of C.J. Satti, who recognizes the need to give back to the community in his way.
The boys’ basketball team heads to the ECC tournament this week, headlined by senior Gio Lopez, who turned his life around thanks to the positive reinforcement he sees in school every day. Lopez once wore an ankle monitor to school. Now he’s a two-sport captain headed to college, being accountable to everyone else around him.
The cheerleaders just won the ECC Division I title, captivating the gym at Waterford High last week in the league championships. This kid Adoni Johnson and his magnetic personality makes you want to watch, just to see what he does next. This was a bunch of kids who worked at their routine all year to perform for two minutes. Imagine: two months for two minutes. And they honored each other’s effort with a masterpiece in spite of the pressure.
Once again, tell me: Where is this kind of efficiency from the alleged leaders? All I see is a stalled school project, personality conflicts imperiling progress in the system, threats of yanking innovative programs the kids and teachers like, absentee board members and no accountability whatsoever.
Is there anybody else out there besides me that wants to pull a Peter Finch?
Our kids, teachers, coaches and administrators deserve better.
They always have.
So who’s going to hold the perpetrators accountable?
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.
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