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budget cuts, etc (long)


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Aug 20 2002 - 12:28:36 PDT

> Where are your school systems coming up with these people? Harvard MBA
> programs? Haven't they ever read Dewey? Or Postman?
> Lawrence A. Parker
> Philosopher and Educational Consultant
>> Maggie wrote, "Our one-year old superintendent has
>> pronounced all our students "customers." My new principal
>> (fourth in five years) told me that if students weren't
>> working, it was up to the teacher to e lesson to make it
>> more "exciting" and "involving" to the students. "
>> Don't feel bad...ours refers to himself as CEO and has the
>> principals calling the system "the corporation." We are told
>> to make school "more inviting."

I should be writing curriculum - only 5 days left, but I have some thoughts
about administrators with a CEO mentality and trying to give a little
sympathy on their end. Schools and districts have gotten so big and
administrators have become so removed from what they should be touching that
it's no wonder we as teachers feel they have lost contact with what the
educational system should be about. In fact I am tempted to take some grad
courses in Principal certification, because I am sure they are being feed
nationwide some of the notions being observed in the above quotes.
For instance, at my school we are constantly asking for some king of
"policy" about student responsibility. Yet it always comes back to us that
we aren't doing something right if the kid is not participating. I think
much of that comes from special ed laws and law suits and how the school is
always held responsible. Those law suits have the schools running in
circles, because it seems the school never wins.

Districts are too big and getting bigger, especially in former rural areas
that are becoming suburban. My high school is 3 buildings with one
principal. It's an overwhelming job. On top of all he has to do for daily
operations, we are starting a building project and he has to oversee that as
well. I wonder if he has time for me, other than to give some kind of
jargonistic orders. I my 10 years, I've seen administration triple in size.
We have more assistants and assistants to assistants and supervisors than I
care to mention. These people make policy and the problem is most of them
haven't been in a classroom for years. They grab onto all the "stuff coming
down the pike" ask us to implement, then when the "pike" changes ask us to
implement again. (Hey, they need to justify their jobs) And communication
is awful. Every memo is followed by 2 or 3 revisions -- mostly because a
teacher, who was not consulted before the memo, finds a fault.

And we get frustrated.

I was on the Strategic Planning Committee for my district this year.
Massive paperwork for state requirements. And there is another thing to
consider. I know people that have gotten on school boards with a tax payers
agenda, only to find out that too often the State requires but then the
State doesn't provide the funds. I hate to say this, but I think we teachers
can't hide in our classrooms anymore. We need to participate in these
planning committees and school board meetings AND association meetings.

I expect the whole public school system will be facing challenges and
changes in the coming years. Privatization, charter schools, vouchers...
these things are not going to go away. Parents are much more aware of laws
and options. I believe very firmly in the right to a free public school
education for all, but I also think a very serious look has to be taken to
how that is accomplished.