Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Superintendent responds to "misinformation" on raises

Mississippi Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright issued the following press release in response to this JJ story posted yesterday:

Mississippi Department of Education Corrects Misinformation on Salary Increases

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) released information Monday to correct misinformation about employee salary increases.

Since July 2014, the MDE has been exempt from the Mississippi State Personnel Board (MSPB) in order to reorganize the department and attract the skilled personnel needed to implement the state’s education reform initiatives. For example, part of the agency reorganization included hiring personnel with specialized skills to provide better services to districts and establishing an Office of Literacy and Office of Early Childhood Education. The department also hired staff to provide technology support, professional development for teachers and administrators and curriculum content support at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

MDE records show that 323 employees received a salary increase. However, of those employees, 227 salary increases were legislatively mandated. Those increases included the teacher pay raise in the state’s four special schools and for teachers who had obtained a higher level of education, adjustments for employees earning less than $30,000 annually, and a raise for school attendance officers.

The salary increases that were not legislatively mandated include 90 MDE staff who applied for higher-skilled and higher-paying jobs and were selected for those new positions and six MDE staff members who received increases based on assuming additional responsibilities.

“To attract and retain high-quality personnel to carry out the state’s education reform efforts, MDE salary levels should match the education, experience and skill level required,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.

Attached is a breakdown of the salary increases by category since July 2014.

“Schools and districts are benefiting from the high-quality professional development, support and services we have been able to offer. Most importantly, student achievement is increasing, which is the ultimate goal of all of our efforts,” Wright said.

Kingfish note: Dr. Wright apparently wants to have her cake and eat it too.  She whined in the Clarion-Ledger Sunday that one of the newspaper's reporters did not contact Dr. Wright before writing a story.  This correspondent called and emailed MDE yesterday morning.  Dr. Wright sat on her bureaucratic butt behind her bureaucratic Berlin Wall and instead sent out a press release at the end of the business day that states "misinformation" was reported.  Well, Miss Queen Bureaucrat, one of the reasons why an attempt was made to contact you was to determine if this information was accurate.  However, that means you would have had to answer questions, which you obviously did not want to do.   Much easier to send out a  press release with its own "misinformation".

Keep in mind it was the Governor who cited the raises as reasons for vetoing the bill.  Dr. Wright doesn't criticize the Governor, oh no. Heaven forbid a bureaucrat should have some actual backbone.  Dr. Wright would rather sit behind her wall and complain about the press while ignoring the press. 

One last thing: Dr. Wright didn't mention the $195,000 starting salary in her press release, did she?  You know what else is missing? Any mention or discussion of the salaries themselves.  She focuses on the number of employees getting raises, not what the raises actually are.



Anonymous said...

She needs to be fired and sent back to D.C. She has done nothing for education in Mississippi except keep it at the bottom. Good Job Carey!

Anonymous said...

She works for Obama and not Phil.Let her leave when Obama goes or sooner.Where does these left wing nuts come from?

Anonymous said...

I would love the know the details of her hiring- who hired her, why, and who was passed over, etc. I have never seen that info anywhere and I have asked my rep and senator as well as others. No answer. Should have never been hired, Got to go.

Anonymous said...

When are you people going to learn? We need this kind of person to make decisions we peons are too dumb to make. You do not have the right to complain. Your job is to send your money so it can be put to use by someone who knows what they are doing.

Wow said...


You are similarly putting up red herrings. There is now a press release explaining everything and most of your commentary is about her "whining about the press" or having no "backbone" against the Governor. What does that have to do with anything?

Now we know 227/323 of the raises were mandatory by law. I think the focus should be on the 90 new positions and 6 salary changes. What is their hiring process for those positions and how do they determine someone moving up within the organization. Are you suggesting we gut out their entire vetting process or that all those people are incompetent?

I agree with concerns about the high starting salary. In order to have meaningful conversation though, I think first:

1)Do you think government can have a meaningful role in the systematic education of our children? If no, then what alternative do you propose?

2)If it does have a role to play, then what specifically are your concerns about a high salary, assuming it attracts someone who is able to do a great job? Are you suggesting that there be salary caps?

I think 9:27 PM's comments last night to your first article were enlightening and if 9:01 is also on point, how do we even begin to change this?

Kingfish said...

It is quite obvious you did not read this post at all because if you did, you would see that the entire press release is posted.

Anonymous said...

More important she jumps when the Feds day jump about the bathroom matter. Rule one when dealing with Feds is drag feet and most of their rules go away.Never act until a gun is put to your head and then stall more. She is really a sorry leader.

Anonymous said...

9:01 here.

I could saturate you with true stories and incidents, but that would only be a gripe session and would serve no further purpose. MDE is a grand bureaucracy of endless meetings where little is accomplished. Government employees with inflated self importance will not 'rock the boat' for fear of getting canned.

Yes, there are some wonderful, dedicated staff at MDE. Everyone knows who they are, just as everyone knows who the brown-nosers are. And yes, being out from under SPB helped the Department get rid of LK who did little but walk the halls and provide a car-parking service to young black female employees; like old man JB who meandered through MDE being a mentor to all young blacks; like CC who did as little as possible and when confronted with documentation of such claimed religious discrimination.

Perhaps some of the new, highly-paid hires know their fields of expertise and will assist student achievement in Mississippi. I can only tell you that years of experience with MDE and numerous Superintendents and Boards, I am not confident. MDE is mostly fluff with little substance.
The commenter last night referencing 'Steve' knows what he is talking about. A friend of mine who still works for MDE was told several years ago by Steve that he was the most qualified for the position to which he was applying, but the Department had to hire a black female for the job. As Ethel used to say, "Look at your color balance!"

Bottom Line: Hire, fire, promote, increase salaries. None of this makes a bit of difference if the culture of the agency doesn't change. Superintendents and Boards will come and go every three or four years, each with new initiatives and priorities and new letterhead. MDE lacks integrity as an institution and, sadly, the few staff who are there for the right reasons cannot change that fact.

Anonymous said...

The governor approved her hire, should he not be held accountable also.

Anonymous said...

12:05 - "Governor approved her hire"??? Please provide some basis for that blanket statement. Under what authority did the Governor "approve"? The law the creates the position provides that the Board Of Education (a nine member body) hires the Superintendent. I don't find anything there that requires approval by the Governor.

Help us out here since you want to require accountability.

Anonymous said...

Would appear that Dr. Wright has a very poor sense of timing. In one week she pisses off more than half the state supporting boys showering with girls and then turns around and gives outrageous salaries and raises to folks that have not changed the public education system one iota for the better.

Guess who's budget gets whacked next year :)

Anonymous said...

I've seen the applied for new position scam before. That is what it is, a scam to give employees large salary increases.

Thank God And Greyhound said...

The woman has no bidness here. She has no ties to this state. As soon as she manages to rack up the minimum number of years required for PERS retirement, she's outa here. We need her gone before she sinks her permanent hooks into the PERS fund.

Anonymous said...

I wish my state job gave me more money when I took on extra responsibilities. MDE must not have that "other duties as assigned" clause in their job descriptions.

Anonymous said...

9:01 Many folks say that they were hired only to "pull this handle"... and "that ain't may job" to everything else.

You can't take exception with government workers... they're a protected class.

Anonymous said...

The board of education did not recommend her without the Governor's blessing and vetting of her.

Anonymous said...

To May 18 at 9:01 AM:

You must understand that at MDE you only get the money when additional duties are added if they WANT you to get the money. This is their deceitful way to reward their friends. I have known many people at MDE who received no additional money when duties were added because they were not in the 'loop.'

There are employees all over MDE right now who have been given the duties of terminated staff and who are receiving no additional compensation. There are also many employees who have been assigned as temporary directors of departments because the directors left or were fired. These temp directors have received no raises but are expected to fill the directors' duties until a new ones are hired. Then after many months and sometimes years, MDE decides the directors' PINs are needed in other areas.

I repeat: Whether under SPB or not, MDE (and I assume every other government agency) knows how to work the system to organize the agency as they see fit. Who you are or who wants it for you is what counts. MDE should remove the statement at the bottom of their letterhead that says they do not discriminate on the basis of...(fill in the blank). The words are moot.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that while under SPB, each state agency can decide at which position level an employee has property rights to his/her job or serves at will and pleasure. At MDE, any position Division Director II or below is under SPB guidelines and after a one-year probationary period staff have property rights to the position. (Within the one-year probationary period, an employee may be terminated). A lengthy process outlined in the MDE Policies and Procedures Manual must be followed to be able to terminate the employee after the probationary period has been fulfilled; there are also 'levels' of infractions listed. Verbal warnings, written warnings, putting the employee on a Performance Improvement Plan for 90 days to 'help' him/her do his job better, etc. MDE must follow due process to terminate the employee. The advantage of MDE being out from under SPB was that unfit staff could be terminated without this due process. Concerning raises for these employees: Unless the positions were realigned or unless legislative raises were mandated, no raises were given. For instance, most MDE staff DDII or lower have not had a raise since the 2006-2007 legislatively-mandated raises of $1,500 per year. MDE says, "If you want a raise, apply for another position."

On the other hand, even with MDE under SPB, an employee at the level of Bureau Director or above must sign a document stating that the employee understands he/she serves at the 'will and pleasure of the Superintendent of Education.' There are no property rights to these jobs. Anyone in these positions may be terminated at any time. MDE does NOT give a termination reason to the employee because that would give him/her fodder for filing a lawsuit. So if an MDE big shot's brother-in-law needs a job, bingo....one can magically appear. Regarding raises for these positions: MDE Administration recommends raises which are voted on at State Board of Education meetings. Since SBE usually rubber stamps MDE's recommendations, upper level employees can have their salaries padded whenever the big shots feel like it. Since the new salaries are within the SPB salary ranges for the positions, SPB accepts and records the new salaries.

THE ENTIRE MDE AGENCY IS A SHELL OF HOLLOW ACCOMPLISHMENT AND FALSE EFFICIENCY. MDE Administration and the State Board of Education know little of the day-to-day operations in Mississippi schools and school districts. Many of them have never been in a classroom, and those who have are many years removed from the challenges teachers face. MDE Administration makes decisions for local school districts and the four state schools without receiving input or requesting it. Remember this: At MDE...


Anonymous said...

When I worked for the federal govt. and the state govt. the only way to get rid of a very poor worker, and that is saying something, was to promote them.

Anonymous said...

To add to Anonymous at 2:21 pm, you are correct as far as you go; however, the governor needs to talk to the employees below the DDll level if he truly wants to know what really is going on inside MDE. My friends that work there could elaborate on the internal climate of fear that has been fostered and the various types of discrimination (salary, gender, age, race, etc.) that continues to take place. My friends tell me of the personnel shifts that have nothing to do with whether you have knowledge and experience in a position. Folks are moved to jobs that they did not apply for, or they are moved out the door. Since the governor vetoed HB199, watch and see if MDE doesn't speed up to get people out of the jobs that would have brought them back under the SPB. Talk to these folks and really listen to them. Then, track what happens to them.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, please continue to dig into the shenanigans at MDE. Their dark pool of unethical behavior is deep. Please note the article in the CL this morning about MDE Deputy Superintendent J. P. Beaudoin. Hopefully the CL will also continue to investigate MDE because there is much more to find.

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