27 February 2007

Decoding the Message

The district I work for is in the midst of some major changes---changes not only for next year, but in succeeding years as we continue to lose at least $2.5M each year due to declining enrollment and other financial support issues. Last week, there was the great principal mambo---lots of dancing around to new buildings as the supe reassigned them to new partners.

Just as not as every teacher is a whizbang in the classroom, neither is every administrator. There were rumors last week that the reorganization was going to be the chance to take care of the downer admins...put them out of everyone's misery. There are two or three principals which are either encountering great struggles at their building due to a toxic environment they've managed to cultivate or just lack all of the skills necessary to be a principal in today's schools. This is not to say that the job is easy---I know that I certainly couldn't do the best at it---but there's too many expectations on kids and teachers these days not to have the best possible leadership.

But the district didn't send any principals out to pasture. Two buildings, however, ended up with principals that they really don't want. They've seen what these principals did at their other buildings...they've talked with their peers who've worked there over the years...they know they're getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Is there more to this message, I wonder? If "the district" is unwilling to end a relationship with a poor building leader (and one without a union behind it making it a simple matter to terminate a contract), what does that tell our teachers about their own jobs? Does it mean that no matter how terribly you do your job, no one is going to touch you? Does it give an excuse for teachers not to engage in reform initiatives---initiatives students are held accountable for even if teachers are not---because they know they'll be able to keep their job for as long as they want it? I can't quite decipher this most recent message from the district...but the silent unspoken nature of it is almost deafening.

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