Friday, December 23, 2011

Who's Really In Charge Here?

Last week the X-Factor winner was announced; Congratulations Melanie Amaro, you deserve it!

But I remember a news story after the first live show.  Some singers were caught lip-syncing to the group song.  The article writers blamed the singers, but who's really in charge here?  The artists don't control the show; the producers do but they are not visible so they don't get the blame.

Discussions about the problems with our public education system generally focus on two groups as the cause:  the teachers and the kids.  Why???  These are the two most visible groups when you're discussing schools.  But, who's really in charge here????

There are news reports of teachers across the country passing students that don't deserve it and the question is asked "What wrong with those awful teachers passing those kids?  Really????  Professionals, across the country, dedicated to educating children doing an action that is clearly NOT in the students best interest???  Is there some conspiracy among educators????  Or, should the question be asked "what administration policy is forcing those dedicated professional educators into such an action"?  Who's really in charge here????

Who's really in charge?  Who's really to blame?  What about the School Boards, Politicians, and Parents.  Teachers and students aren't cutting funding to schools or increasing class sizes.  Teachers and students don't close schools, force rivals gangs together into one building, then reduce security staff and restrict remaining adults authority to act!!! Teachers can assign homework, but it takes parents to monitor behavior at home and ensure that it's done.

What Would You Do?  

Scenario:  You are a teacher.  It is the fifth week of school  and you have a special education student on your class roster that has never been to your class.  You have contacted the students parent on more than one occasion and notified them that their child does not attend your class.  In an all staff meeting it is announced, "do not fail any special education students, even if they have never been to class, LEGAL WILL NOT SUPPORT YOU".  

  • "Legal" is the  School Boards legal group responsible for interpreting laws and defining policies to ensure the schools compliance with those laws.  They are also responsible for determining if the school or individuals are adhering to the applicable laws.  
  • If a student misses class the teacher is mandated to contact the parent at least once.   
What would you do?  Do you fail the student that you have never seen and risk your job; or do you pass the student and remain in a position to support the students that you can reach?

Are you thinking that this scenario is not real?  In Chicago, during the 2009 - 2010 school year a neighborhood open enrollment high school principal was fired for requiring teachers to change grades.  Also that same school year, an all special education student public  high school was closed because the principal required teachers to change grades.  In both instances those "awful principals" took the blame, because "how could they do such a thing"?  But, who's really in charge here???? 

Let's place the blame and hold accountable those that are truly in charge and demand REAL action.  Let's also stop accepting the talking points backed up by jerry rigged statistics, that don't produce authentic results.  Not just the kids but our country loses when we accept lower educational standards than other nations and fail to place the blame where it truly belongs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hell Yeah, I Want That Job!!!!

How many of you would work hard in college to earn a Bachelor's degree, but more likely a Master's to work at your dream job.  Once you get that job you find that you spend at least six hours per week preparing to work, work a full schedule, then spend about at least four hours on follow-up.

You need supplies to perform your dream job, no problem you can purchase them at the local office supply store - - at your own expense.  Your work area has blank walls which you, yes you, are expected to decorate - - of course you pay for it.

No workplace is perfect, but when things go wrong at yours it's often solely your fault.

Your employer needs to cut costs, so layoffs are coming.  You find out that you've been laid off either by a voice-mail message or a maybe Powerpoint presentation in a team meeting.

Hearing these things, and yes they're true, how many would say "Hell Yeah, I Want That Job".  Well, hundred's of thousands do say "Hell Yeah, I Want That Job" everyday.  They're Public School Teachers.

Most teachers are professionals dedicated to educating and mentoring the children.  They do what they do because they love the kids, they know they need a good education to succeed, and they are committed to the kids success.

Now someone is remembering Mr. Somebody or Mrs. Somebody, who is/was a crappy teacher and thinking that what I'm saying is not true.  I admit, there are some people holding teacher positions that do not belong in the same zip code as a school.  Yes, they exist; but they are NOT the majority of teachers.  Teacher lead classes, yes,  but they also feed hungry kids, counsel kids through their struggles, be a shoulder to cry on, a source of encouragement, and the person who is proud of the kids accomplishments.  Don't judge the super majority by the behavior of the few and far between.

Someone is thinking, the best schools have the dedicated teachers and the worst schools are full of teachers that don't belong in a classroom.  WRONG!!!!!  Imagine the true dedication necessary to put in the time and effort everyday, doing everything you can, knowing that you will only reach a handful of kids and will lose the majority.  I'm not putting down teachers at good schools, I'm acknowledging that every school has good, strong, committed teachers.

Teachers, I applaud you, I admire you, I pray for you.  Continue to be the beacon of hope and love and confidence that the kids need and depend on.

Let me close giving a shout-out to the other unsung heroes in our schools:  the Administrators, the Counselors,  the Security, the Office Staff, the Janitorial Staff and the Lunchroom Staff.  There's a saying, "It takes a village to raise a child".  School personnel provide a village of safety, encouragement and love to our children.  They deserve our thanks not our derision.