Why would Nicole Glentzer, a hitherto invisible Ukiah Unified School District administrator, suddenly decide to run against incumbent Michelle Hutchins for Mendocino County School Superintendent, especially since Ms. Hutchins has established the agency as effectively helpful to the far flung independent school districts of vast Mendocino County and there have been zero complaints about her administration? (The prior admin of Paul Tichinin was a regular Laff Riot; Warren Galetti seemed downright overwhelmed by the job and resigned to return to the Fog Belt.)
Ms. Glentzer’s facebook page doesn’t offer much in the way of specific reasons for her campaign, boldly declaring with see-through vacuity, “With the right leadership, our schools can rise to any challenge and go above and beyond meeting student needs.”
And, “When teachers, parents, and administrators from across the county began approaching me to run for this position [Names! And why did they “approach” her?], it became clear that we needed change in the office, and that I could make a difference. The Superintendent of Schools should provide better support to our schools. The 13,000 children in our schools deserve dedication, experience, and common sense.”
We’re pretty sure Ms. Hutchins would say pretty much the same thing. Edu-speak is heavy on uplift, but uniformly vague, rhetorically the same here in the NorCal outback as in San Francisco, and always without so much as a hint of the grim fact that California schools, even as measured by the loose metrics of American ecucational standards, annually churn out millions of functional illiterates totally unprepared to cope in an imploding society.
Ms. Glentzer offers no specific reasons to unseat incumbent Hutchins; simply implying that Ms. Hutchins is not dedicated, experienced and lacks common sense. Pure wind, thrown out there with zero evidence of the charges, but hard evidence that Ms. G has no issues, or no issues she cares to share because, as we shall see, that issue is so transparently without merit it would make her look grasping, not for students but for herself and her “upper-level management” colleagues.
We suspected there was some kind of insider bureaucratic dispute behind Ms. Glentzer’s run for County Superintendent. We asked Superintendent Hutchins if she had any idea why Ms. Glentzer decided to run. Hutchins speculated that it may have begun when Ms. Hutchins denied some money for Ukiah Unified for a program called “differentiated assistance,” i.e., state edu-money for underperforming school districts — which Ukiah Unified certainly is by most ordinary indicators. Ukiah Unified features an abnormally high suspension rate and lagging academic test scores, a fact that the Ukiah district, with its over-large admin apparatus, probably prefers to hide from most of its consumers.
Back in May of 2020 Ukiah Unified Superintendent Debra Kubin asked Hutchins for “differentiated assistance funds” which Kubin wanted to spend on her own consultants which, Kubin explained, “could be extremely valuable in this area with our upper level managers,” and “a retreat we would like to hold.”
Hold it right there. Consultants? Upper level managers? Retreat? We've had years of these ripoffs out of Tichinin's seemingly endless reign at County Schools, and before him, the agency was operated as a criminal conspiracy that saw two “upper level managers” packed off to jail for stealing and what you might call “moral turpitude.” (An upper level manager named Hal Titen was making pornographic films with underage girls in the back room of his bar using educational equipment he'd “borrowed” from MCOE. His “upper level manager” colleagues said they were “surprised and shocked.”
Ms. Hutchins replied to Kubin's attempt to grab off a nice hunk of cash for her Ukiah-based upper level managers by citing the Education Code (Sec. 52071) which clearly requires that the differentiated assistance money go to County offices from which the assistance is provided to all county school districts. It's not supposed to be passed along to individual districts. Ms. Hutchins added that she and her County staff would be more than happy to work with Ukiah Unified to figure out ways to improve Ukiah Unified’s performance challenges but would not simply hand over the money for consultants and retreats for upper level managers. (Although Ms. Hutchins phrased it a bit more tactfully.)
Ukiah Unified was very unhappy. Prior MCOE administrations always played ball. And then some.
When Hutchins ran four years ago she ran against another Ukiah Unified administrator named Bryan Barrett. Barrett, AVA readers may recall, was the ring leader behind trying to nail Ukiah teachers union rep Dennis Boaz as a racist for writing that Ukiah Unified’s administration was being “niggardly” in their salary negotiations. The Superintendent at Ukiah at the time was a black woman who commuted to the job from LA. There was certainly nothing niggardly about her salary and perks.
It's entirely possible that the common adjective found offensive by the Ukiah boobouisie was truly not recognized by Barrett and MCOE's Tichinin, educational standards being what they too often are among school administrators, but the wider public wondered out loud, “These dummies are running our schools?”
Ukiah Unified is the largest school district in the County by far and they don’t like it when their funding requests are denied, especially when those requests are for Ukiah Unified’s “upper level managers” and their preferred consultants — one of whom is that wacky Ukiah guy Steve Zuieback who bases his “consulting” on this wacky navel-gazing “enneagram.”
(A former Ukiah City Council also thought Zuieback's lunacy was “clarifying.”)
Unless Ms. Glentzer can do better than vague claims of “leadership” and “making a difference,” we prefer the incumbent who is not a captive of any one County school district. In fact, if Ms. Glentzer is such an effective administrator, how did Ukiah Unified’s edu-rating fall to the level of needing “differentiated assistance” in the first place?