Friday, June 20, 2014


APRIL 7, 2014

The Stark County Political Report was amazed to read within the past few days in Stark County's only countywide newspaper (Porter: Hite firing casts long shadow, The Repository, June 19, 2014) that a controversy over the non-renewal of North Canton's legendary? baseball coach apparently has put the school systems' August 1, 2012 hired superintendent of schools Michael Hartenstein in question in terms of the quality of his leadership.

Hartenstein, who came to North Canton from Parma (where he still lives), has one year left on his initial three year contract.

The SCPR suspects that Porter way overstated the significance in the context of the entire North Canton community of the baseball coach's non-renewal.

Porter claimed that 200 North Cantonians showed up to protest the move whereas a Suburbanite present at Wednesday's school board meeting reported has said the number was more like 70.  (Community voices support for fired Hoover baseball coach Hite, Patricial Faulhaber, The 19, 2014)

The SCPR checked with a person whom The Report has found to be a highly reliable source (Source) on North Canton school board matters and this individual says that there could not have been more than 100 people present.

To The Report,  it is a tip-off that Porter may be sensationalizing the significance of North Canton schools' action on the coach in that he apparently cannot count.

According to Porter's profile on Linked-in, he has been a sports writer/columnist for The Repository since 1991.

To work sport journalism for over 20 years, one must really have to think sports are a high priority in American and more particularly in North Canton life.

And he may be right.

However, the SCPR is skeptical that most North Cantonians see the significance that Porter implies that the baseball coach's non-renewal in the place of priorities in the North Canton City Schools (NCCS).

Here is an excerpt from Porter's column:

The bottom line is a board of education meeting at North Canton City Schools was overrun with supporters of a baseball coach. North Canton isn’t the kind of place that typically has circus-like board meetings. This is a district that is, after all, ranked by U.S. News and World Report. It’s a place that runs the business of education well.

And Wednesday night North Canton lost a little bit of itself because a superintendent didn’t have the pulse of the community, nor did he know the passion of it.

He does now.

Give the man some respect for admitting a mistake with a flawed process.

But don’t quit watching. While the scene at the board meeting was unusual for North Canton, it might have been just what the community needed.

A wake-up call to keep its leaders on their toes.

Here what an actual parent of North Canton students had to say (in part)  to the SCPR about Porter's perception of the meeting:

I do think he (Coach Hite) has used the media to paint a picture that may not be entirely accurate about his dismissal, but we will never know.  

Regarding the community’s opinions on where Hartenstein lives:  it does not bother me that he lives in Parma.  In fact, I am certain that his distance from personal ties here has allowed him to make the decisions that administrators in the past would avoid.  

There are two articles in the Canton Rep today that paint two different pictures of what occurred at last night’s meeting.  

Todd Porter is off in his assessment, making it sound like Hartenstein admitted a mistake.  He did not do that, he only clarified that the non-renewal was not about player time as many suggested, that it was about the overall operation of the program by Hite.  

He also stated that he will review the process with the board over the summer in order to improve how they review such matters going forward.  

I was surprised that one board member discussed what was said by Hartenstein in executive session.  

There were 4 people who spoke in support of Hite.

The SCPR believes that the North Canton City School system is among the very best academic institutions in Stark County, in Ohio and even reaching into national circles, if not beyond.

A daughter of The Report (now a medical doctor) had a taste of North Canton high quality education in participating in a NCCS course as part of the Stark County collaborative among various school districts as a Lake High School student.

For Porter to play up the baseball situation as an indication that Hartenstein is "out-of-touch" is a bit much.

Perhaps his love of all-things-sports has impaired his judgment?

Hopefully, Porter is not of the ilk of a barber who once told The Report:  "You know what, if it weren't for sports, life would not be worth living!"

The Report thinks it is a pretty empty life that lives and dies sports.

Education is far more than sports.

And these days, with the undue emphasis in America on sports and entertainment, it is more important than ever to have school administrators who understands our misplaced priorities and who have the grit and determination to put "first things first" and emphasize academics as being at the top of our school systems' priorities.

On April 7, 2014 Superintendent Hartenstein made a "State of the Schools" presentation at an event at Walsh University.

The SCPR was there and videotaped the presentation.

Hartenstein did bow and scrape to the Porter types in iconing his presentation with a reference to the North Canton "Vikings" of athletic prowess.

But he quickly got serious about that things that really matter in public education in outlining the strengths of the current NCCS educational infrastructure and where the system aspire to be in the future.

What should concern North Cantonians more than anything else is the prospect that the school system could be falling on financial hard times beginning in 2016 as indicated in Hartenstein's presentation.

The SCPR thinks it is irresponsible for Porter to make the coach non-renewal saga out to be more than it really is.

Bring it up, talk about it, encourage improved communication if indeed the facts of the non-renewal indicated that the action resulted from a failure of communication and understand.

However, the SCPR has the feeling that Porter is imposing his seeming priorities in life onto the NCCS.

Here is Hartenstein at Walsh University on April 7th.

No comments: