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FCPS Superintendent Jack Dale to Retire in 2013

Schools chief has had a rough couple of years with budget, discipline issues.

Fairfax County Superintendent Jack D. Dale announced Thursday he will retire when his contract ends in June 2013.

Dale has been at the helm of the 175,000-student school system as it has recently weathered issues such as a budget shortfall and an ongoing issue with the system's discipline policy.

He has been in the position for seven years.

Dales retirement will be effective July 1, 2013, at the end of his current contract.

"I have served an extraordinary 42 years in public education, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead this world-class school system,” Dale said in a statement.

"In my mind, there is no other school system that has the same level of commitment of its school board, engagement of its community and parents, and talents and skills of its employees,” he said. “I look forward to spending more time with my three grandchildren and family on both the East and West coasts and pursuing my personal interests as a pilot, reader, and golfer. I also hope to contribute to public education in some way. For the next year and a half, however, I will be focused on helping our new school board craft the direction that will guide our system for the next decade."

Dale's tenure has included maintaining the standards of education for which FCPS is known while creating a streamlined central office with hundreds of fewer positions and generating efficiencies throughout the school system.

Initiatives launched under Dale included the priority schools initiative, which drives additional support to those schools that need it most to reach their student achievement goals, and the teacher leadership program, which provided extended teacher contracts designed to promote teamwork, improve instruction, and raise student achievement.

“Jack Dale’s leadership will be sorely missed,” school board chair Janie Strauss said in a statement. “He moved the School Board and FCPS forward as we developed our strategic governance initiative, which made us more effective governors of this school system.

" In addition, his collaborative and collegial style has been a welcome approach to handling tough issues and challenges we faced. I personally hope that, after he retires, he will stay connected to public education for the benefit of students and educators everywhere.”

Dale became FCPS Superintendent in July 2004. From 1996 to June 2004, he served as superintendent of Frederick (MD) County Public Schools,  where he was named Maryland's superintendent of the year.

Dale has served in education as a teacher of mathematics, assistant principal, director of instruction, director of personnel, and associate superintendent for school administration.

Born in Seattle, he holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and education; a master's in educational administration; and a doctorate in education, with an emphasis on school leadership and organizational change, from the University of Washington.

Dale's announcement comes weeks before a high-stakes school board election. Half of the 12 incumbents, including Hunter Mill rep Stuart Gibson, are not seeking re-election this fall.

In an e-mail to FCPS employees, Dale says there is lots of work to do over the next year and nine months.

"I intend to stay very focused on our priorities and initiatives," he wrote. "One of my next jobs will be to get the new School Board acclimated and oriented to crafting a direction for FCPS over the next decade. I know you will help support this effort as well.  

"So … no goodbyes yet! We still have a lot of work to do and I intend to have my sleeves rolled up until June 30, 2013." 

Curmudgeon September 24, 2011 at 12:28 PM
Answering in order: 1. If the honorary doctorate bothers you, refer to him without the title. Incidentally, I'm not necessarily a fan (although I believe he is an improvement over Daniel Domenich and Bud Spillane). 2. Fine. 3. Fine. So have I, by the way. I have great admiration for them. You remember SLHS with Mrs. Rodriguez, no? Admittedly, there was only one direction to go, but Mr. Butler made/allowed that to happen. 4. Any person above the age of reason has the capacity to be morally corrupt.
John Farrell September 24, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Dan should never have been pressured to leave. Bruce needs to find another line of work. The "age of reason" was a speculative concept of the church fathers who estimated it to be attained at 7. But brain research tells us that the part of the brain that controls impulses isn't fully integrated into the rest of the brain until age 25. Thus, the age of reason is after high school graduation and no high schooler can be "morally corrupt." Not understanding such a fundamental truth of adolescent development is ruinous to effective high school leadership. I've been told Bruce was officially admonished for that outburst and, while he apologized for the typos, he never apologized for slandering his student body. One of many Rially's acts that outraged SLHS parents and led to her removal was her referring to the student body as criminals in public document. Any person with that antogistic attitude toward the students needs to leave secondary education. Bruce has yet to send a condolence note to the Andersons. Could you be more heartless? Bruce was heard to say to Tina Hone that he would not allow any student who he had involuntarily transferred to another school to return to SLHS even though the SRR specifically says they can. Bruce kept the sadistic Tim Arrington, Josh's vice principal, in place for 7 years despite the constant complaints from students and parents. Bruce opposes changes to the broken discipline system. There's more but not now.
Sheree Brown-Kaplan September 24, 2011 at 05:14 PM
As a School Board candidate I’m concerned about the timing and intent of Dale’s announcement. He appears to be inserting himself in the School Board race with his dismissive comments about the candidates: “Do you believe all kids can learn? Do you believe we should address the needs of our most needy students equally as well as the needs of our most gifted students so they both can be successful?” Dale said. “That’s a huge philosophical question for which there is no transparency right now among all candidates.” Yes, Dr. Dale, I do believe all kids can learn. What I don’t understand is why 40% of FCPS graduates who attend community college need remediation because they aren’t college ready. Could you explain that to the public? I do care about the “the needs of our most needy students.” As the parent of two children with disabilities, I’m focused on student outcomes. My expertise is in special education, and I’ve been fighting for years to get our most at-risk students the attention they deserve. So why is it that students with disabilities – who comprise 14% of the total population – make up 44% of all the discipline cases before the FCPS Hearings Office? Transparency isn’t merely a philosophical question for me. It’s one of my prime goals for the School Board. Answering the tough questions might not be easy or convenient, but it's what leadership is all about. Sheree Brown-Kaplan Candidate for School Board, At-Large
Curmudgeon September 25, 2011 at 12:13 PM
Surely you joke when you say that a teenager can't know the difference between right and wrong. There may not be "full integration" until the early twenties, but any well-brought-up toddler free from mental defect can learn, and exhibit, proper social behavior. (I assume you're all for raising the age at which a person can drive a car. It would be unconscionable for a culture to allow a group of people with no reasoning skills or moral judgment to operate machinery at high speeds.) Sadism is a serious charge. Do you literally mean that Mr. Arrington bound students and caused them physical pain? As lamentable as any suicide is, the principal (or assistant, in this case) did not cause it. I don't know whether or why Mr. Butler would not send condolences to the Anderson family.
KB September 25, 2011 at 11:53 PM
As a teacher and parent, I can assure any doubters that Dr. Dale/Jack - whatever you want to call him - has done absolutely nothing short of running this "world class" school system into the ground. For those who would argue that it is still one of the best, I say (yet again) that this is only in theory/on paper but not in reality/implementation. Investigate further, and you will find that much of what is purported to be happening in our schools is NOT. Saying something is so (over and over again) does not actually make it so. Mention any "best practice" in education that is touted by central office, and I will tell you what is actually being practiced in its place. Try me. :) The bottom line is that FCPS teachers are not respected, FCPS parents are not respected (no matter how proud they may be), and most of all - FCPS students are not respected. It is shameful, and the only disappointment this teacher/parent has is that our "leader" ended his notice with the "no goodbyes for now" line - most of us were hoping more for "effective immediately." Sorry, but the truth hurts.
KB September 26, 2011 at 12:08 AM
I also feel the need to say that I am an optimist/idealist by nature and would love nothing more than to agree that FCPS is overall a great school system. Unfortunately, that assessment is a thing of the past. It is now quite the opposite - an overall flawed system with some great qualities (many skilled and dedicated teachers, some equally skilled and dedicated administrators, and a whole lot of wonderful students). It's time to quit defending and start reforming, as many commenters seem to agree. I urge each and every one of you to investigate further - go outside of your own pyramid and REALLY get a glimpse of what is going on. Furthermore, look into what is going on in OTHER counties. Do you know, for example, that Montgomery County has completely overhauled its math curriculum and is discontinuing accelerated math programs? If you wonder why, read the research on the fallacies of such practices. Do you wonder why FCPS has the largest percentage of students in AP classes? Does it not cross anyone's mind that other counties happen to know better? And does anyone ask the percentage of FCPS students actually passing the AP exams (with a 3 or above)??? Ask any teacher what they think about the "rigor" of the FCPS curriculum, and you will be surprised what you hear. It's not rigorous, it's absolutely nonsensical...but, in this county, we'd rather defend it than fix it, apparently.
Christy Krinos September 26, 2011 at 02:58 AM
Reading most of the comments on this board would lead one ot conclude that the Fairfax schools are on the same par as some inner city troubled schools.
Jonas Sterling September 26, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Two points - A) one of your comments says FCPS teachers, parents or students are not respected, but in the second comment you suggest many skilled and dedicated teachers and a whole lot of wonderul students, What does this mean they are skilled and good and wonderful, but not respected? B) If as you suggest the teachers do not believe the curriculum is not rigorous enough, then perhaps they should be advocating an IB curriculum, right? One of the common arguments against the IB program is that it is so rigorous that many find it too difficult to complete.
Megan McLaughlin September 26, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Nothing in life should be viewed in "absolutes", but rather on a spectrum. FCPS is neither "All good" nor "All bad". Most would agree that FCPS is a very good school system, but it has remained so for 40+years in large part because of our community (highest per capita of college graduates, strong tax base, quality teachers & strong parental support, and great employment opportunities that attract families to come here). FCPS' Central Administration needs to view teachers & parents as an asset...and include them as partners in education. Research supports this approach, and FCPS Central Administration needs to do a better job of embracing this approach.
Nancy Linton September 26, 2011 at 06:06 AM
I agree that FCPS has many strengths and is a good system. It could be the number one in the world if it valued parent and community input and considered critique as a way to improve rather than a force to build a wall and defend against. Children are people not numbers. One can not place a dollar value on the amazing benefits of children being educated in a community school where teachers, parents and staff are devoted and nurturing. That is a priceless commodity. This is why decisions like closing Clifton, and redistricting without accurate projection figures that are verified by independent analysis, is so destructive. We are made up of over 176,000 people, not numbers. Nancy Linton, School Board Candidate,Hunter Mill
Nancy Linton September 26, 2011 at 06:20 AM
I was at the Arab-American candidate night and one speaker reminded the candidates to remember who their boss is-the people who elect them. That is who I plan to represent. The community will be my boss and I will be the superintendent's boss along with the other 11 board members. I will have a sacred duty to evaluate FCPS's performance independently. With no budget to do independent analysis, the current board has abdicated its authority. Dale has done some positive things but his resistance to providing transparent data and opinion that he should provide the direction rather than take direction from his bosses is the problem. Nancy Linton, Hunter Mill Candidate for School Board
KB September 26, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Jonas - it is entirely possible to HAVE skilled and dedicated teachers yet not respect them. The same holds true for wonderful students. I happen to be both teacher and parent, and I can assure you that I am not respected in either role. I also do not feel my children are respected as students.
KB September 26, 2011 at 10:49 PM
As for the rigor question, I did not say that teachers do not believe the curriculum is not rigorous enough. I am suggesting (asserting?) that FCPS does not understand the concept of academic rigor...rigor is not fifty math problems for homework when fewer will achieve mastery. Rigor is not using a seventh grade text book with your high performing sixth grade students. Rigor is not covering more material in a shorter period of time. Rigor is "the goal of helping students develop the capacity to understand content that is complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally or emotionally challenging.” It is entirely possible that even our AP courses are not rigorous, as defined. While the curriculum may be complex, I doubt that our AP students are given the time necessary to allow the content to reveal its ambiguous, provocative, or personally and emotionally challenging nature. And because of this, students are simply memorizing huge chunks of facts, regurgitating them onto an AP exam, and then forgetting them forever. How discouraging it must be for both the teacher and the student to expend so much time and energy and have so little to show for their efforts. And even more discouraging that, when teachers and students share their frustrations, no one listens...because most people think the percentage of students taking AP courses is more important than what is actually being taught/learned in those courses.
Barry Meuse September 27, 2011 at 02:24 AM
Amen my friend, amen. Dale has 'had a couple of difficult years' says the title? No where near what the parents and students have been put thru. He can't leave too soon for me. As an add, to those commenting subjectively on the pedigree of selected candidate Board Members (ie, the Democrat vs Republican labels) - seems to me national party has NO place in local school board elections and deliberations. Yes, some candidates may have national aspirations for higher office someday but voters want smart, committed Board members who will actually ride herd on and guide the Administrators - not the other way around. If we get caught up in D/R diatribes, we're getting ourselves off track. My two cents.
Barry Meuse September 27, 2011 at 02:27 AM
amendment: my 'Amen' (preceding) is to KB and Jonas (earlier above) - sound thinking - well expressed.
Nancy Linton September 27, 2011 at 10:07 AM
Your comment that school board should be fully nonpartisan is so refreshing. The parent advocates that I work with don't care which party each other is during federal elections. We work together every day in Fairfax County to hold FCPS and Dr. Dale accountable. We ask the probing questions and request data that the School Board is supposed to be analyzing. When members responsive to the public who elected them such as Patty Reed, Sandy Evans, and Tina Hone (one who is Rep, two who are Dem) try to evaluate data independently, many of the other members defend FCPS instead of working with them to provide constructive criticism. I stress this term, "constructive criticism". Dr. Dale has taken alot of criticism but my goal is not to come in like as bull in a china shop and audit the heck out of every one, My goal is to objectively, independently review data figures the way all corporations do so that the public who elected me can feel confident that the 2.2 billion dollar budget is being used efficiently, that projection numbers are accurate when any redistricting is done (as a last resort) and that FCPS is being transparent. Again, thank you for your comments about working to make school board nonpartisan. Children don't come with R or D on their heads. Nancy Linton Candidate for School Board-Hunter Mill
Andrea Rosenthal September 27, 2011 at 11:24 AM
The focus of the school district under Jack Dale has been misguided by two factors that Dr. Dale let hold him hostage - No Child Left Behind and Jay Mathews. Under Dr. Dale, the use of alternative SOL tests (the VGLA) for students with disabilities was abused. Students who were performing several years below grade level in the classroom were passed - or declared advanced - with VGLA. Teachers were pressured to give the same worksheets again and again until they produced a winning "scrapbook." Students with disabilities measured with VGLA sometimes had higher pass rates than their typical peers. Anyone could pass the VGLA, which means there was no accountability for these students. These students also lost access to remediation and summer programs. One could say Dr. Dale played the hand he was dealt, but as a leader of one of the largest districts in the country, he could have stepped up, with other leaders, and said "No!" and NCLB could have been revamped years ago. Students with disabilities need to be measured on progress, not benchmarks. If a student is four years below reading level and advances two years over a one-year period, that is success. As for Jay Mathews, I can't understand why this man and his AP index run FCPS, but it's resulted in the elimination of honors classes where an AP class is available, and fewer appropriate choices for our students. Let's go back to educating students as individuals.
Barry Meuse September 27, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Nancy - I hope the other candidates running for the Sc Bd share that attitude - you're right on - good luck in Nov!
Julie Halpin September 27, 2011 at 02:17 PM
@ Jeannie---I could not agree more... can you say rose colored glasses?
Julie Halpin September 27, 2011 at 02:31 PM
@KB- I could not agree with you more....I know for a fact that you are NOT the only teacher that feels this way! People are afraid to see and deal with the truth of what is going on, and it looks like maybe now the "real truth" may come out. It takes a brave person to admit that they have made a mistake and try to be honest and fix it. There are problems and serious issues to address(that the school board has ignored), and the person/people that can't face this reality should never be in top management any where!
Marta D. Saltus September 27, 2011 at 03:22 PM
Now this is something we can agree on 100%! I wish to thank the Fairfax Zero Tolerance Reform organization for their endorsement of Dr. Lolita Mancheno-Smoak, Steve Stuban and Sheree Brown-Kaplan for the 3 At-Large seats in the upcoming November elections. Here is a quote from their Press Release: "The November 8 election of Fairfax County School Board members is going to have an enormous impact on our county schools, students and teachers. The incoming school board will be asked to make pivotal decisions that include selecting a new superintendent; deciding on a proposal to install video surveillance in high school cafeterias and common areas; overseeing a $2.2 billion budget; and managing policies and practices that ensure transparent, accountable oversight with honest public feedback and engagement"
Marta D. Saltus September 27, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Amen!
Marta D. Saltus September 27, 2011 at 03:33 PM
If you qualify that with the fact that the man makes over $300,000 a year, plus perks, a couple of bad years is incomprehensible to me. How is it that a County Superintendent in the state of Virginia makes more money than our Governor, or a U.S. Congressman or Senator, for that matter! I would like an answer to that!
Marta D. Saltus September 27, 2011 at 03:38 PM
I have a question addressed to whomever has some insight or answer. It pertains to what used to be Gifted and Talented and is now called Advanced Academics. My children are 5 year apart, and have both gone through this program. While my experience with my oldest was nothing but fantastic, I, along with my youngest's classmates parents, are terribly disappointed with the AA Program today. I am not sure if the issues we have observed span accross the county, but in Mt. Vernon the quality of the AA Program today has no comparison with what GT used to be. The kids get no homework, and the curriculum is hardly anymore challenging than GE. Any thoughts on what's going on?
John Farrell September 27, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Curmudgeon You distort the question presented. Knowing right from wrong is not the same thing as being "morally corrupt" which connotes a certain permanent depravity which cannot be ascribe to a child whose brain isn't fully developed. Sadism is different from bondage. Sadism is deriving pleasure from inflicting pain on someone else. Tim Arrington certainly met that definition in my experience, observation and opinion. Research tells us the the time from ideation to completion of a teenage suicide can be as short as 48 hours. So, yes, I believe that Josh and Nick's suicides were triggered by their experience with the FCPS discipline system. The other rhetorical inquiries are sophistry.
John Farrell September 27, 2011 at 07:57 PM
In a jurisdiction of 1 million people and in a magisterial district of 110,000, candidates, and voters, tend to rely on the sample ballots handed out by the parties at the polling place. Especially for offices which are found at the bottom of the ballot, as School Board races are. Running as an independent without the party sample ballot, and the other party infrastructure, is overwhelming as Ralph Cooper found out and Steve Stubin is finding out. And Steve has the benefit (from and electoral point of the view only, people) of heightened named recognition obtained from press coverage of his horrific tragedy. No doubt Steve would trade that advantage in an instant to have Nick back as would we all. I very much doubt will School Board races will ever be non-partisan. For the first time since School Board became an elected position in 1995, this may be the first year that they are more prominent than all of the other electoral races on the ballot which will be a very good for our schools and our kids.
KB September 27, 2011 at 10:42 PM
I could answer this question with absolute confidence, yet I am so exhausted from the topic of Dr. Dale that I'd rather not open a can of worms. Needless to say, it's not an answer you'd want to hear.
KB September 27, 2011 at 10:48 PM
You are absolutely spot on with the Jay Mathews assessment...his index is based on a simple, if not inane calculation - divide the number of AP, IB or other college-level tests gien by the number of graduating seniors. And THIS is why FCPS continues to tout it's AP course enrollment numbers, etc. RIDICULOUS!
Marta D. Saltus September 27, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Thank you, KB. I have friends who are teachers and tell me what is going on is not what should be going on; one of them is getting students from AA in middle school that cannot complete a math assignment; you can fill in the blanks...
Marta D. Saltus September 27, 2011 at 11:07 PM
I thought I would add a link to an article addressing the achievement gap in minority populations, another topic of severe failure on the part of our current School Board: http://www.northernvirginiamag.com/education/education-features/2011/09/26/ditching-the-diploma/comment-page-1/#comment-39621

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