Archer Parents, Teachers and Neighbors Express Concerns, Doubts and Fears
The JosephsonvsArcher website has had over 50,000 page views and a substantial majority of the parents and teachers receiving our occasional email updates have stayed on our distribution list (every communication provides an opportunity to be removed from the list).
We have received scores of personal letters and phone calls expressing concerns about the status and direction of Archer and sharing additional stories of unprofessional actions by Elizabeth English.
The input received by this site paints a picture of a divided Archer community at risk.
Parents: Though most parents believe their daughters are getting an excellent education and have no problem with Ms. English’s leadership, a significant and growing body of parents are very uncomfortable with being required to sign the all inclusive arbitration clause and the possibility that she will eject their daughters if the parent does anything Ms. English does not like.
We also received comments complaining about Ms. English’s lack of candor concerning the prospects of the expansion plan (including the significance of accepted changes) and the fact that the bulk of about $3 million dollars spent on the rejected original plan was wasted (see Archer expansion plan flounders).
. And we’ve received more than a dozen stories of unhappy interactions with Ms. English resulting in implied or direct threats demanding support.
There are those who are uncomfortable and even resentful of her management strategies and actions — and, it seems, virtually all who have come to know her believe that candor and anything that smacks of criticism is not welcome. There seems to be a general understanding that if Ms. English doesn’t like you, you are gone.
Many current and former Archer parents who selected Archer based on the promises of renovation described as “essential” and donors to the expansion fund feel alienated with emotions ranging from annoyed to outraged because they feel they were lied to, or at least misled.
There also seems to be a growing concern about the way money is spent, especially for the personal benefit of Ms. English — the 1.4 million renovation of the home provided for her and the prospect that the school will have to build a new home for her under the current expansion plan. There is also the issue of her compensation and the fact that she earns far more than any previous Archer head of school. With compensation likely to be in excess of a half a million dollars (a salary of about $420,000 and housing, tuition and other benefits probably worth another $100,000) the Archer community has a right to expect a more effective visionary leadership. And, of course the amount of money spent and wasted on the unsuccessful original expansion plan was also a concern.
Finally, quite a few parents are upset that Ms. English drove off Archer’s two extremely successful college counselors. Again, the board should inquire of these lost stars as to the conditions of their departure.
We can’t accurately assess how widespread these negative feelings are but if we are right, morale is at the lowest point in the school’s history and at least half of faculty and staff would welcome a change of leadership.
Teachers and Staff. Similarly, many teachers and staff have no grievances, but a high proportion disagree with the change in philosophy toward education and discipline and have experienced bullying and intimidating behavior. We can’t accurately assess how widespread these negative feelings are but if we are right, morale is at the lowest point in the school’s history and at least half of faculty and staff would welcome a change of leadership. Because attracting and retaining quality faculty is a key strategic goal, The Board can and should conduct talk to people and administer a credible survey (that people feel they can safely answer) to determine if this is true.
Neighbors. Several parents contacted us through this website to express outrage that rather than truly collaborate and consult with them as Ms. English repeatedly claims, her interactions with concerned residents and businesses stressed Archer’s needs and sought to minimize the validity of their concerns rather than find meaningful solutions. They said that the school used slick (and expensive) brochures but did not engage in true give and take discourse and that her “presentations” (rather than a discussion among equals) were conveyed with an entitlement attitude that many residents perceived as arrogant and insensitive (one resident used the term “imperious”). In any event residents have escalated their opposition even after Archer sharply pared down the plan. The Board should verify but it seems that school-community relations are also at an all-time low.
NOTE TO MS. ENGLISH AND THE BOARD: We are committed to accuracy. If any statements of fact are incorrect, please let us know and we will correct them.