Sandwich Schools search for an excuse or a scapegoat

Clueless Knights – Beleaguered Sandwich Schools Plan Survey

154 kids head for the lifeboats while only 24 board sinking ship

By Walter Brooks

We’ve watched more videos of the Sandwich School Committee over the past couple of years than we care to remember, mostly to witness the “mad tea party” try to stuff Mary Ellen Johnson in their teapot one more time.  A recent video of the December 21st meeting included the new superintendent Charles “Richard” Canfield outlining his plans to survey Sandwich parents whose children have chosen to send their kids elsewhere.


We hope Dr. Canfield likes tea.
The Cape Cod Times reports that 42 Sandwich students left the district under school choice and another 112 attend Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis.  The loss of 154 pupils creates a financial loss for the district, though hardly on the scale of Dennis-Yarmouth’s stunning $1.9M “sending tuition” for school choice.  Since 2001 Sandwich has lost 15.61% of their students to declining population, school choice and charter schools.

So here we have – after months of PR disasters – the Sandwich Public Schools just now pondering why parents of 154 kids have lost confidence in their district.

Jekyll and Hyde?

Academic excellence in Sandwich is an established fact.  With the district’s impressive test scores and Sandwich High School’s rating by Newsweek as one of America’s 500 best high schools, it might make an outsider wonder why anyone would want to matriculate elsewhere.  Indeed, when we first heard that some school board members wanted to set up a budget to market the district we were excited.  That’s before we learned of the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Sandwich Public Schools.

The typical apologia of a school with poor test scores is “A school is much more than its test scores.”  In the case of Sandwich, the same reasoning might apply.

In addition to the escapades of a school board bound to slaughter a superintendent who led the district to excellent test scores and national recognition, Sandwich has been afflicted with an out of control teacher union that soured the milk that nurtures school choice.  Next came the drug raid at Sandwich High School, as lampooned by satirist Cardinal Borgia in Wasted Days and Wasted Knights

Athletic Scandal Explodes

A board bound to slaughter a superintendent who led the district to excellence.In November an earlier hazing scandal was recalled when Sandwich High School senior Ty McGrath, 18, of Plymouth was accused of assaulting a freshman in the boys’ locker room at Sandwich High School. 

Then McGrath’s mother, Julianne McGrath, made statements to the press indicating her belief that her son’s legal problems may have been a form of retribution for the emails she and other parents sent to athletic director Ellin Booras and Superintendent Canfield about favoritism on the football team and a matter concerning a player who appeared to be high from a pre-game joint.  (Here we go again with the Wasted Knights!)

This was followed quickly by a male cheerleader, John J. Amaral, being charged with threatening Mr. McGrath as reported by BadJocks.com which concludes their story with the prophetic line “Not sure where this one is going to go, but things are a little screwy at Sandwich High, to say the least.”    (If BadJocks was a U.K. site we’d be obligated to compliment their British understatement.)Would you send your aspiring athlete to a school like this?

Racism Anyone?

About this time we were researching a story with a prominent member of a certain sovereign nation in Mashpee who was disappointed in his school district’s refusal to pursue a Native American studies program.  Our editor asked if it would be possible send the kids to Sandwich on school choice.  Wouldn’t Sandwich give them a better education?  

His response was “Sandwich?  That’s KKK headquarters!”

How ugly is that?   We have noted before in passing that Sandwich offers one of the whitest school populations on the Cape.  With all the other issues they have, is it possible there’s a pinch of racism in the district’s poison brew?

So Let’s Do a Survey!

Read the news, Dr. Canfield!  It’s all right there on your computer screen.Amidst all this anecdotal evidence of their problems, the Superintendent’s solution is to take a survey.  On the surface that seems sublimely clueless.  Read the news, Doctor Canfield!  It’s all right there on your computer screen.

Or maybe Canfield is sublimely clever.  The 64 year old superintendent has worked in education since 1969.  If he watched any of the video of last year’s school committee showdowns with his predecessor he knows you have to tread softly when you’re school superintendent in Sandwich. 

If he can conduct his survey and bring back “objective” results from the parents he might avoid a trip down the rabbit hole that swallowed Mary Ellen Johnson as the Queen of Hearts cried “off with her head!”

Sandwich Public Schools’ problems are as numerous as the hairs on Dr. Canfield’s head.  A “survey” might be a safe beginning but sounds woefully inadequate. 

During the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School’s recent travails the term “360 degree review” became a virtual epithet at the troubled school.  At this point Sandwich’s schools need their own 360 degree review and the faster the better.

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