Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Reader Doesn't Like... Observations From the Perfect Dysfunctional Storm

In response to the series of posts, “Observations From the Perfect Storm,” a reader writes the following:


I am offended by many of your views of central office. In large districts, I have seen this as being an issue, but in the majority of districts, many in upper administration are there because we want to make the greatest impact on all students. We are not the lazy, teacher hating, student ignoring, money grubbing people you make us out to be. We work tirelessly to ensure that EVERY student has access to the best education our district can give him or her.

SC Response
First, thank you for your response. 

I will start my rebuttal with the following fact. I was a central office administrator for more years than I was a principal.

I’ve re-read the posts in question, looking for your specific critiques.  I don’t see them. We (neither the principal nor I) DID NOT cast central office administrators as:

A. Lazy – We both know this is not the case.

B. Teacher Hating – If anything we point out that central office will often side with complaining teachers over campus administration. That is not teacher hating. If I were to say the central office administrator hates anything, it would be conflict.

C. Money Grubbing – You are reading someone else’s material, not mine. I argue that all educators are underpaid, from classroom aide to assistant superintendent. And in most cases, I argue that most Superintendents are also underpaid. 

D. Student Ignoring – We didn’t argue this one way or the other. But if you believe that Central Office is as student centric as the campus, I would disagree.  Just the nature of the position forces the central office administrator to, at times, compromise student needs for the needs of the entire organization. This is not an indictment, just a fact.

I do see in Point #1, I point out that most schools fail due to failed leadership.  That is not a secret.  And I will add that Central Office leaders share in that blame, though they rarely share in the consequences of that failure.

In Point #4, the Principal and I agree that Central Office has little stomach for teacher complaints. And on top of that, most principals are evaluated by how “happy” their staff reports themselves to be.  I’ll stand by this truism and readily (in private) point out the districts where this practice is the law of the land.

In Point #5, the Principal and I agree that Central Office is motivated to intervene when campuses are rated unacceptable. And once a campus is acceptable the attention of Central Office wanes.   Again, I’ll stand by this truism and readily (in private) point out the districts where this is standard practice.

In this series of posts, specific to a real (but identity masked) dysfunctional campus in a dysfunctional district, every adult in the system is culpable, from the Board to the Teacher. The fact that this principal wanted to share lessons learned is commendable.  The fact that the posts were uncomfortable to read is a good thing.  We should never be comfortable when adults fail children.

Think. Work. Achieve.
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