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How does a teacher w/ 5 yrs classroom experience become Superintendent? Meet Dr. Tamu Gibbs Lucero

Updated: Mar 1, 2023


Dr. Tamu Lucero has been with Stamford Public School since 2013 when she started as Assistant Superintendent. In 2018, she became Deputy Superintendent and then, one year later, she became Superintendent. In that time, her salary went from $209,043 (2016 is the first number we could find in the Stamford Advocate) to $237,465 (2018) to $281,500 (2019) to a whopping $406,000 today ($295,000 base salary + $52,000 split between a tax-sheltered annuity and a deferred compensation plan + $59,000 in other benefits, including a travel stipend to go back and forth between Stamford and her home in Worthington, Ohio.)


That is over a 90% raise in less than a decade

Our math: [(406,000 - 209,043) / 209,043] x 100


Surely, someone who makes that much money to begin with must have an amazing resume with a track record of improving academic performance in an extremely diverse and large school district. Then, once in this district, this person must have markedly improved the academic performance and overall desirability of the schools.


One would think.


However, in 2023, the way to the top is to fail; or at the very least, reinforce the status quo, and of course, have the correct identity markers.


Since Dr. Lucero has been with Stamford Public Schools in 2013, the reading and math proficiency scores remained more or less stagnant through 2019.


Then, due in large part to Dr. Lucero's reactionary approach, our schools were kept on limited schedules or closed for much of the 2020-21 school year, causing scores to plummet from 47.8% proficiency in English to 40% and from 42.8% proficiency in Math to 32%.


During the same period of time that Dr. Lucero went from making $209,043 to $406,000, Stamford's graduation rate has dropped from 94.1% to 85.4% - she got a nearly 50% raise while our graduation rate saw a nearly 10% reduction.


So not only are we failing to prepare our graduates with the basic skills necessary to attend college or compete in the job market, fewer and fewer students are walking away with a high school diploma altogether. In Connecticut, over 75% of the prison population enters the correctional system without a high school diploma and functions between a 5th and 6th grade reading and math level.

2016-17

2017-18

2018-20

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

WHS

90

88

88.1

86.3

82.9

SHS

95.1

88.7

87

90.8

89.7

AITE

97.1

98.7

98.1

98.7

95.4

Average

94.1

91.8

91.1

91.9

89.3

85.4*

*We could only find the districtwide average, which is available in the 2022 Community report: www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Graduation-rates-dip-across-Stamford-high-16536601.php



Perhaps these low proficiency scores and falling graduations rates are connected to the fact that 80% of the core classes in Stamford Public Schools have NO written curriculum. A fact the taxpayers of Stamford had to pay about $160,000 to discover (click to read the final report).


Isn't teaching our kids the basics of reading, writing, math, science, and history the core mission of our schools? Isn't curriculum the first thing we should make sure our teachers have? How is it possible that Dr. Lucero could be in a leadership position of this district for almost a decade (note that she was in charge of teaching and learning as Deputy Superintendent) and not have the fundamental understanding that our teachers don't have the materials they need to teach?


Maybe it is because she was only an elementary school teacher for 5 years at small alternative elementary school before she became a principal, and she has long forgotten what it takes to teach in classroom (and had no prior experience before coming to Stamford teaching or leading at the middle or high school levels).


We'll let you review her resume and decide if you think she was ever qualified to lead Stamford Public Schools:


1994-1999: teacher at Franklinton Alternative Elementary School

- K-5 school with 200-300 students and less than 20 teachers

- located within the Columbus Public Schools; it closed in 2005


1999-2003: Principal at Georgian Alternative School

- K-5 school with about 500 students and less than 30 teachers

- Located within Columbus Public Schools


2003-2004: Guest Lecturer at University of Namibia

- Served as an Integrated Science Lecturer at Ongwediva College of Education.

- Provided support to College Rector related to administrative responsibilities including: a communication system, college standards, and strategic planning.

- Provided professional development related to technology, school reform, hands-

on educational strategies, student code of conduct, and other educational issues.


2004-2005: Principal at Windsor Alternative Elementary School

- K-6 school with less than 400 students and less than 25 teachers

- Located within Columbus Public Schools


2005-2013: Principal at Worthington Hills Elementary

- K-6 school with about 550 students and less than 35 teachers

- Part of the Worthington City School District: student enrollment 10,621 (83.% white, 16.8% minority); 75% proficiency for reading; 77% at or above that level for math.



In June of 2013, Dr. Lucero was hired at Assistant Superintendent by Stamford Public Schools and basically doubled her salary to around $200,000 (according to public records in 2014 she was employed in Worthington City and had annual salary of $101,494).

Dr. Lucero had never been the leader of more than 550 students and 35 teachers; most of her experience as principal was in was within a school district with substantially different population demographics and historically was not struggling academically in the way Stamford Public Schools have. Let's compare:

City Population

Student Enrollement

Student Demographics

English only spoken at home

Media Household income (students in public schools only)

Housing Status - renters

Poverty level

Receiving food stamps/SNAP

% of Parents with Bachelor's or higher

Worthington City Schools

68,884

10,621

77% white

9% black

5% hispanic/latio

7% Asian

87.8%

$113,635

30.2%

6.3%

7.4%

65.4%

Stamford Public Schools

130,057

16,157

49% white

13% black

27% histpanic/latino

9% asian

51.5%

$78,824

49.7%

13.2%

15.7%

41.4%

We can't know for sure all of the whys and hows of Dr. Lucero's journey as an educator before being hired by Stamford, but we do worry that her quick ascent from classroom teacher to principal, has left her without the fundamental understanding of the everyday experience as a teacher. It is also interesting to note that her first role as principal was in a school that was shutdown less than 6 years later. Then, she spent only 4 years as principal at her next school before leaving to teach in Africa for a year. When she came back, she spent only one year as principal at a particularly low performing school before leaving for Worthington School District, a high performing, majority white school district in the suburbs.


Does her experience at a couple of small low performing elementary schools in Columbus, Ohio give her the experience to lead an entire district of schools in a small city such as Stamford? Did she accomplish notable academic gains for students during her time at these schools? Why did she run away from the struggling black and brown students at Windsor Alternative Elementary School to white students in the suburbs? Was the challenge too great? Did she care at all that this would mean those students and teachers would be destabilized yet again and forced to adjust to another new principal the next school year?


Dr. Lucero has had more than her fair chance to come to Stamford and prove herself a capable leader. The reality is that before the pandemic she did nothing to improve the academic performance of students or better support our teachers; and now that our students are further behind due to extended school closures, hybrid learning, and forced masking, she certainly won't be the one to bend those scores back in the other direction.




Also, did you know that Dr. Lucero is in large part responsible for leaving our media center's a "barren wasteland." Our district leadership doesn't even value literacy, is it a wonder why 60% of our students can't read proficiently?


It's time to stop playing identity politics with the students and families of Stamford. It's time to stop paying $406,000 per year of taxpayer money for a school system that is failing too many of our students. Over the past decade working for Stamford Public Schools, Dr. Lucero made millions of dollars in salary and benefits, while more than half of the students have graduated lacking proficiency in basic academic skills, and then she flies back to Ohio on the weekends.


We encourage the Stamford Board of Education to immediately take up the item of voting NO to a contract extension for Tamu Lucero. The sooner we end her contract, the sooner we can move to find a district leader with proven success - someone who can streamline our programming and implement curricula for 100% of our core courses and get to the heart of the work that is done in schools - moving steadily in the direction of increasing reading and math proficiency and restoring a graduation rate above 95%.

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