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Education Matters: Goodbye to two great men

June 25, 2010|By Dan Kimber

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

Today I'd like to give honorable mentions to two of my retiring colleagues, Hoover High School Principal Kevin Welsh and Supt. Michael Escalante.

I use the word "colleague" because I never thought of either as my boss. Both of these men were, first and foremost, educators, and there was never any question that their first priority was the kids. In that respect, we were equal players on the same team.

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Escalante has taken his share of heat over the years, especially from the teachers union when negotiations are under way. His salary has been under scrutiny recently, all the more so in light of the budget constraints and austerity measures being imposed throughout the district. Whether or not our superintendant was overpaid is a matter of personal opinion and a matter for the Board of Education to address. I do, however, feel it only right to inject a little known fact about his compensation that might offer a more balanced picture.

The "golden handshake" that all retirees are being given this year to coax them into early retirement has been turned down by our superintendent. He is entitled to, but has declined to accept, approximately $140,000 from district coffers. That piece of information came to me from a reliable source and, after a little arm-twisting, was confirmed by Escalante. His decision was obviously based on the present economic situation of the district, but it is one that doesn't grab any headlines.

It's likely that Escalante would have preferred to keep this to himself, but I thought it was worth mentioning, given the negative and downright mean-spirited comments that have been made about him by my union's leaders.

If my fellow Glendale Teachers Assn. members want to see what a "tyrant" (a recent public jab by a union official) superintendant looks like, I would refer them to negotiations back in the 70s and a superintendant who truly had contempt for us teachers.

Escalante was a teacher's superintendent and he is, above all things, a good man. I am grateful for his service and leadership in our district and for nearly four decades of dedication to our profession.

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