What Do Teachers Need From Administrators?

[I originally posted this at Dangerously Irrelevant]

What do I need from administrators? It seems to be a huge question, and I am not sure why. Administration, in my experience in elementary schools in California's Bay Area, seems to be a tool of policy makers, not defenders of good, wholesome educational practices--they are the purveyors of fads. Or maybe they are simply trying to stay employed.

I have had principals who never taught in an elementary classroom. I've had principals who have been out of a classroom for 20 years, yet still think they are current. My district has gone through 3 superintendents in 10 years, each with his/her own "bee in the bonnet" about something that has more to do with money than educating kids. It's a sorry state of affairs.

Administration/principals in a school, IMHO, should be made up of current teachers. Actually, administrator should be a non-education based job--administrators should not be principals. At big hospitals there are managers who manage the business side, leaving medical personnel to do medicine. Sure, there is a chief medical person, but that person is chiefly medical and only meets with the MBAs when money versus best practices is at issue, not to decide on medical procedures, ideally.

I want this for schools. Principals are too busy dealing with budgets--being the tools of the board and superintendent. School districts spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with money--cutting programs, overworking staff, eliminating positions--because America has chosen war over children, or something similar. Principals, who started as teachers, are not best used as OMB-type employees. They started out as educators, and should remain leaders of education in schools, not budget cutting consultants who come in fresh, ready to cut and slash.

I would like to see an administration separate the double role principals play into 2 distinct roles: the money role (administrator) and the educational leader role (principal). I propose to do it like this:

Let's assume a district with 12 elementary schools--a 1-high school town. In this town there would be an MBA type administrator (or 2) who would deal with the money for all schools--budgets would be prepared and analyzed by this MBA's staff and then presented to the educational leaders at each school. I call them educational leaders because they would be teachers. Let me explain, because here is where I go nuts:

The principal of an elementary school should be working with parents, teachers and children, not budgets and money management. In order to have an educator (teacher) as principal we would need to do something very different in terms of credentialing. Imagine if all teachers were not just credentialed as a teacher, but also as an administrator (principal)? The administrator classes one needs to take to get an administration credential are few, making them an easy addition to a regular credential program. By combining a regular credential with an administrator supplement, making a new, more robust single credential, there is suddenly a large number of those who could be principal.

In my scenario, teachers with the new credential would rotate from year to year as principal. Sure, it is similar to a teacher-led school, but my idea changes credentialing and traditional administration of schools. If I am a classroom teacher this year, I might be principal next year, then my buddy teacher the year after that with me returning to the classroom. This puts educators and colleagues in charge of the school--with no worries about finances because they are taken care of by the "money-man."

I like the idea because my experience with administration has been an adversarial one with money pitted against what's best for kids. What would this new principal/teacher be able to do? Freed from an Excel spreadsheet a principal would have time to help with the actual teaching of students and professional development of teachers. Staff meetings would take on an air of a team working toward more cohesion and attentiveness to the needs of students as opposed to the constant strum and drang of management-speak.

A principal should be a classroom expert, especially in elementary school. They should be part of the school team, not part of the management adversariat.

Teachers should run schools. Schools are not businesses.

Saturday Cartoon Fun: More Of The Same Edition


We're Rich And Powerful And F*cking Own You!! You're Welcome!

[New York] ...State law requires that the job of school superintendent or chancellor must go to a person with specific credentials and qualifications, including certification as a superintendant, completion of graduate education courses, and three years of teaching experience. The law provides that a waiver may be offered to individuals “whose exceptional training and experience are the substantial equivalent of such requirements.” Although Ms. Black lacks the requisite experience, it is generally expected that the mayor will obtain a waiver from the state for his new chancellor-designate. Ms. Black would be be the third chancellor in a row, following Harold Levy of Citibank (who was appointed by the pre-Bloomberg board, and who had previously served on the New York State Board of Regents) and Joel Klein of Bertelsmann, to receive a waiver....
Diane Ravitch

There Is A Precedent For Appointing Personal Yet Unqualified Friends

Many people are upset that the mayor of the New York City has appointed a personal friend with no teaching experience as head of education. They are concerned that the new head will continue policies of heavy testing and top-down management that have failed in the past.

There is a precedent: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Thursday Cartoon Fun: Derision Points Edition

Obama To Give Billionaires Tax Cut They Want

President Barack Obama's top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.


We've Sure Killed A Lot Of Civilians

Blue = *Friendly*, Green = *Host* Nation, Orange = Civilians, Grey = Enemies.

First one is function of sum, second one is function of time, or how you can dilute the media impact of a massacre by killing a few people each day for 6 years. Just remember that host nation + civilian + enemies = mostly Iraqis.

Used the cleaned dump from The Guardian.
Kamel Makhloufi

I Think I Might Be Sick

I don't feel well, like this guy.

And, I changed the way blockquotes appear. No longer do they have borders, now they have a light blue (aliceblue) background. Much better.
Like this.
And, I had to buy a new oven.  It is like the one I really wanted.  Well, it's white like the one I wanted. The one I got is so cheap the broiler drawer doesn't hinge--it's a straight-up drawer. And the picture of it is wrong--my oven has a dial, the one pictured is digital. I have the rotary phone of ovens.

Lawrence Goodwyn On Financial Arrogance

Goodwyn's account of the Populist movement, Democratic Promise, is quoted extensively by Howard Zinn in People's History of the United States, and also in William Greider's masterpiece on the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple. You can find Goodwyn quoted in the first paragraph of Bill Moyers' recent book, On Democracy, and cited in just the same way in countless other books and essays.
...I have one additional reaction that is so strong it is almost, but not quite, private: What has happened in the 23 months since the 2008 election has simply heightened my lifetime of astonishment at the financial arrogance that long ago matured within the culture of American banking. For all my accumulated indignation over a half-century of unwanted experience, I now must admit that I underestimated the capacity for sheer greed that drives American banking. The evidence is compelling that a great many people within the financial community acknowledge no limits because they have a seriously atrophied loyalty to American society as a whole. I speak here of the cornerstone of the American democratic experiment itself: the sense that a majority of us have had -- have always had -- that we are in this thing together.

Bankers are not with the rest of us on this. Perhaps they never have been. All exceptions freely conceded, but the general reality still holds: they are killing the promise of this republic...
Lawrence Goodwyn and Jan Frel via Alternet

Song Of The Day: Looks Like Rain

"Ace" Version

Long Beach 12-14-1980 version(I was there)

Awoke today, felt your side of the bed;
The covers were still warm where you been layin'.
You were gone, oh gone, my heart was filled with dread;
You might not be sleeping here again.
But it's all right cause I love you, and that's not going to change.
Run me around and make me hurt again and again.
But I'll still sing you love songs, written in the letters of your name.
And brave the storm to come, for it surely looks like rain

Did you ever waken to the sound of street cats making love?
And guess from their cries you were listening to a fight.
Well you know, hate's just the last thing they're thinking of.
They're only tryin' to make it thru the night.

I only want to hold you, I wouldn't want to tie you down
Or fence you in with lines I might've drawn.
It's just that I, oh I, have gotten used to havin' you around.
My landscape would be empty, if you were gone;
But it's all right cause I love you, and that's not going to change.
Run me around, make me hurt again and again.
But I'll still sing you love songs, written in the letters of your name.
And brave the storm to come, for it surely looks like rain.

DefSec Gates: Repeal DADT Before The Repubs Get In!

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Congress should act quickly, before new members take their seats, to repeal the military's ban on gays serving openly in the military.

He, however, did not sound optimistic that the current Congress would use a brief postelection session to get rid of the law known as "don't ask, don't tell."

"I would like to see the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are," Gates said Saturday, as he traveled to defense and diplomatic meetings in Australia.

Unless the lame-duck Congress acts, the repeal effort is considered dead for now.
via HP/AP

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