To: Howard Blume
Date: July 1, 2002
From: Wendell C. Greer Jr.
Subject: Upcoming Article L.A. Weekly
Thank you for sharing the contents of your impending article with me. As well, I’m appreciative of your offering me a chance to respond. Below is a statement I’ve prepared. I ask that if you choose to use it at all, you use it, “as is,” in its entirety:
Principals, much like chief executive officers of major corporations, must take full responsibility for what happens on their “watch”; this includes both the good and the bad. During my watch as head of Manual Arts High School, my team and I built significantly on a foundation that had been established by predecessors. We were singularly “student focused” as an administrative machine. We were successful in our goals to reinvigorate a school, community, student body and teaching population. We helped students improve in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s then–”five benchmark areas” that served as “indicators” of schoolwide success: improved attendance, improved standardized test scores, improved disciplinary outcomes, improved bilingual student-redesignation rates, improved graduation and college-attendance rates. Manual Arts High School achieved those goals during our six years of working together. Teachers were challenged to teach; students were challenged to learn; the community and its politicians were challenged to care to make a difference. Together, we did. I stand proud, as an urban high school principal, and can say that our efforts made a positive difference in America’s future.
Rarely do principals have much cause or opportunity to touch cumulative records of students, and I cannot think of one who would lose his credential by tampering with them. Principals cannot give illegally authorized competency tests, which are maintained in central administrative offices and have to first be secured. Principals rarely, if ever, touch moneys made from student fund-raisers. Principals do inspire academic and professional excellence and principals do inspire anger and disgruntled employees by asking for academic and professional changes that best benefit students in their quest to learn. I take this opportunity to state that I have never willfully or maliciously abused the privilege of being principal at Manual Arts High School. I stand by my record of having led this school to be recognized by then-President William Jefferson Clinton as a “beacon of hope” for inner-city high schools throughout the nation and having led to its being recognized as the first inner-city high school in the state to be recognized as a California Distinguished School and a California New American High School. These accolades were earned by the students and teachers after site visits. My tenure made a difference. I challenge any naysayer to do a better job. We did it for the children. I stand by my record and those who trained me. My journey in reaching my achievements was long and arduous, and everywhere I’ve been, we’ve made a positive difference for students. It has been my privilege to serve. Thank you for allowing me to have a voice.