Yesterday we told you about a curriculum change recently approved by the CCISD Board of Trustees that effectively means intermediate students no longer need a passing grade in science or social studies in order to matriculate to the next grade level.
It is important to notice that there is one person in the Superintendent’s cabinet driving this and other ill-advised changes: Dr. Steven Ebell.
Dr. Ebell is the Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. He is in charge of overseeing the review of the curriculum, lesson plans, and assessments for all the schools in the district. This is actually a very broad set of duties that includes everything from recommending policy changes related to the curriculum to overseeing committees that decide what schools students will be zoned to.
However, Dr. Ebell is actually one of the primary unelected leaders in CCISD who is responsible for the dumbing down of its children. His fingerprints are all over a number of other fiascos, like the proposed changes to district-wide school start times that did little but promise to disrupt a schedule that largely works, and the boundary changes enacted this school year that needlessly displaced hundreds of students.
Here’s what we know about Dr. Ebell:
His career as a school district administrator can be traced back to the Hays CISD (approximately 9,000 students at the time), where he worked under the title of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, in 2001. But being the go-getter that he is, a mere two years later, he set his sights on bigger and better things, and landed the job of Superintendent for the Gonzales ISD. This District has approximately 2,500 students – far, far less than CCISD’s 42,000+ students.
Yet just three years later, Dr. Ebell left Gonzales ISD to return “home” to the Austin area – supposedly he was recruited for the job of Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources with the Eanes Consolidated ISD, and it was apparently an offer he couldn’t refuse.
But why leave for a lesser role after just three years? One would assume it’s because things weren’t going that well. And that would be an understatement because it appears after less than 36 months he managed to run Gonzalez ISD into the ground; the District was labeled academically unacceptable a mere two years into his tenure as Superintendent. This is essentially a failing grade for the entire district. Not exactly outstanding bullet point material for LinkedIn, is it?
From there, Dr. Ebell goes back to Austin, tail between his legs, to essentially manage human resources for a district with only 8,000 students – something that he came under fire for as Superintendent of Gonzales ISD, using legal trickery to allow nepotism in the hiring process. And then what? One year later, he lands at CCISD, and the rest, sadly, is history.
Dr. Ebell’s record is one of mediocrity, at best, and yet he is the person – after a nationwide search, no doubt – that Dr. Greg Smith has carefully entrusted to manage CCISD’s curriculum and instruction! Despite repeated searches for information about Dr. Ebell’s accomplishments or record, nothing has surfaced. Perhaps that speaks more volumes than anything else; his lack of any sort of record of accomplishments, before and during his tenure at CCISD, proves that he cannot handle the demands of a District this size.
The reality is that the job has been too big for Dr. Ebell from the start, and virtually all of his recommendations are in the best interest of everyone but the students. Note that TEA ratings, critical statewide metrics that assess the success of a school district in educating its students, have slipped under his watch. Now the curriculum is being dumbed down. What’s next?
We’ve found the root of the problem. If Dr. Greg Smith were wise, he’d cut loose this flotsam as soon as possible.