Principal under fire for e-mail to parents

October 22, 2010 3:00:20 PM PDT
A principal once voted the least trustworthy principal in Brooklyn by the teachers union is facing criticism yet again. This time for an e-mail he sent to parents filled with grammatical errors and typos.

He is principal at the Middle School for Art and Philosophy in East Flatbush, where only 13 percent of 8th graders passed state exams.

The school, also known as M.S. 588, earned a grade of "C" on a recent progress report, but the principal may have earned an even worse grade for an e-mail he sent to his teachers.

Principal Andrew Buck made headlines for what he wrote on the subject of an apparent textbook shortage at the school.

He wrote, "Why are parents asking for more textbook?"

And then, in a strange turn of phrase, he wrote: "Text books are the soup de jour, the sine qua non, the nut (singular) and bolts of teaching and learning."

It gets worse, with: "Just because student have a text book, doesn't mean she or she will be able to read it."

"This was my superior, who grades me, and I was just really shocked that he could actually not read, edit, draft. He didn't follow the basic steps of language arts," Deborah McLain said.

McLain is an English teacher at M.S. 588. She and her colleagues are even more unhappy with the principal's apparent reluctance to provide more textbooks.

His letter refers to certain conditions, and he writes: "These conditions are that teachers provide student with learning experiences, which may or may not include textbooks, so that students know more or are able to do something more or better than when they began "the lesson".

"No educator wants to deny a child an opportunity to read at any level, so why deny them textbooks and actually put it in black and white," McLain said.

Mr. Buck's leadership skills may also rate poor grades. In 2008, the teachers union voted him the most distrusted principal in Brooklyn.

"They didn't believe a word he said. He had a very high turnover on his staff. As a first-year principal, I believe he lost about 90 per cent of his staff members," Richard Mantell, teacher's union leader, said.