On View of Education: Vol. 3 – Leadership

As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. One person described me as, the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. Of course, I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate because I was just being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was often the voice in the wilderness. I spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think, Oh no, he’s one of those. You may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own so I’ve numbered them only for reference.

Today’s Topic: Leadership
1) Listening to the administrators and school boards across this state promote to their public how well their schools are doing causes me to ask this question: If schools are doing so well, why do we need to change?

2) Statements as look how far we’ve come are excuses for the status quo, grand illusions of change, and lack any vision of where to go. When examining where we’ve been, the point of comparison should be where we need to go – not the past.

3) Even if a mindset of reform or even progress toward reform took place in a department, a grade level, or a building staff, would central office let it continue? I’m not so sure because our district’s leaders understand reform, but they don’t believe it. Their beliefs are demonstrated by their actions, and those action don’t demonstrate a restructuring attitude. Too much time whitewashing creates an illusion. They will take credit for success, then painfully point the figure to others when something falls down. Sugar coating numbers only dulls the pain, but cures nothing.

4) Is the educational system too much of a dinosaur to move? (Too much inertia fits.) Probably so. The system is very political, so leaders cannot take risks, and change is way too risky of a proposition. Then again, the lack of leadership coupled with a lack of vision will keep education wollering in the mud of mediocrity while continuing to promote the false illusions of success and change.

5) Central Office leadership tells us that some kids need more time to achieve, and should get it without penalty. On the other hand, building leadership tells us grades need to be completed by a certain time on a certain day. This is an example of what one says doesn’t match with what one does. Therefore, no matter what Central Office says, entering “Incomplete” to give a student more time is not really an alternative.

6) Because I use Crisco oil, I’m just as qualified to lead Crisco production as the public is to run education.

7) Teachers and all level of administrators say students are their top concern. I disagree because students should be the top concern of teachers, while teachers are top concern of building administrators, and building administrators are the top concern of district administrators – thus calling this “semantics” is BS.

8) The public runs education and government. What does the public complain about the most? Education and government.

9) Isn’t good administrator an oxymoron?

Previous posts in the series