27 April 2007

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

You know the story, right? The one where the mouse gets a cookie and then wants a glass of milk...and then more and more? It's a variation on the old adage about looking at the business end of a gift horse.

Our high school principals were quite mouse-like earlier this week. In an effort to build a stronger connection between their schools and Curriculum, we had surveyed their teachers and then spent some time looking at the results with the principals and talking about possible ways to better meet the indicated needs. Principals wanted to focus completely on math needs and helping low-performing students meet the graduation requirements. The outcome of all of these discusions was to convert .6 of our Curriculum staff allocation to provide a .2 math coach for each high school. We shared this plan with the high school principals on Tuesday. We gave them a cookie, and wouldn't you know it, they started whining about needing milk to go with it.

The high school principals don't quite seem to get that for every new piece we support from our resources (such as the coaches), something else has to go away. They can have cake or eat cake...but not both. This really surprised me, but not another specialist who was there. She figured that they would just look at the process as a negotiation. I don't see that they have much to counter with. If they want even more support from us, what are they prepared to do in return?

Frankly, they're screaming for the wrong things. If they really feel the pressure about getting kids diplomas, then they need to start worrying about the math education kids are getting long before 11th grade. Their elementary counter parts are only focusing on writing---and have done away with additional math support (and continue to have no science support). I don't think the high school principals have considered this---that an ounce of prevention would be worth a pound of the cure. Instead, they want a feelgood staff development program which is showing no visible change in the classroom and a teacher with an extra planning period to work with math interventions. I wonder what these three blind mice will ask for next.

1 comment:

MiddleSchoolWorld Staff said...

Different school, same old story. Ohio schools suffer the same problem -- administrators who want to have their cake and eat it too. We teachers are expected to get students to pass achievement tests without proper support programming. It's very frustrating, but we're getting used to it.