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The Heart of an Educator

On August 31 School Superintendent Larry Powell retired from his position as head of the Fresno Unified School District. Not headline news unless you take into consideration that as a condition of his retirement, Powell agreed to be hired back by the district where he will work for free having donated his entire $288,000.00 salary back to school programs. Yes, there are some individuals with a social conscience and Larry Powell is one of them.

As superintendent in an area of the nation with one of the highest unemployment rates, Powell has witnessed economic ravage among the families that populate his district. He watched his wealth accumulate while others around him struggled.  But unlike most of the “haves” who demonstrate little or no consideration for the “have nots”, Powell was driven to “step up and do something.” 

$257,000.00 of his donated salary will go to fund a much needed arts program and a study skills program designed to assist students who have a B or C average and want to attend college. $31,000.00 will provide funding for at risk programs throughout the school district. He has agreed to complete three and half years left on his original term as superintendent which brings his salary “donations” to a total of over one million dollars. 

While Powell will hardly starve, (his retirement income will total $200,000.00), his generousity is still quite remarkable. Around the same time that Powell was making arrangements to donate his salary to Fresno schools, Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple was awarded one million shares of Apple stock that total more than $385,000,000.00. He donated nothing.  He shared wtih no one.  He is one of the “haves” with no trace of a social conscience. Cook’s “gift” of one million shares of stock is in addition to his salary. Schools, and entire cities in the Bay area where Apple computers thrives, could fund hundreds of programs, employ thousands of people for $385,000,000.00. Instead one man, Tim Cook, will prosper. 

Larry Powell has the heart of an educator- looking at the world through the lens of how to make it better. Because of his generousity and integrity, thousands of students will benefit. The Apple board of directors and new CEO only operate to elevate the shares of Apple and increase revenues for the company and the shareholders. Therein lies the difference between the world of education and what some call capitalism. I just call it selfish greed.  

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