20 January 2008

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

...Who's the most narcissistic school of all? Why, if you said "The School Where the Science Goddess Works," you're a winner.

To give you some background, let it be noted that the student population at this school is mostly from privileged families---privileged in the sense that there are two-parent households and middle to upper income. And white. The school, however, takes a great deal of pride in touting its achievement scores, very little of which has to do with the instruction provided at the school. The faculty delights in trashing other schools in an effort to make themselves look even better.

I think my favourite recent example of this was a teacher who went on and on about how the other high school should get an alumni association, too. You see, the pretty school (with its wealthy background) has one, so it gets all manner of technology for the classroom through the funds wealthy graduates provide. But now the pretty school isn't getting as large of a chunk of the district technology pie because they don't need it. There was a great deal of whining about how unfair it all is. The real kicker is the guy who went on and on about this is an alumnus of the other high school. Um, if it's that meaningful to you, how come you don't get off your butt and change things?

And then on Thursday, everyone at the high school was treated to this e-mail:

Greetings!!! Over the past year or so, I have noticed a pattern of disrespect that seems to be aimed at [our school]. Whether it is comments made by staff in other buildings, district administrators, or parents and students from other schools, there seems to be an attitude of putting down the accomplishments of [our school] and using terms like "arrogant," "AP High" (and much more) to describe this building.

We have seen examples of a 'leveling' process in operation. Instead of providing the leadership to help other buildings to improve their academics, or work more diligently with their alumni, or to encourage their students and staff to work harder to build a program unique to their building, we've seen areas of unfairness directed at us from the same folks who trumpet [the district mission statement].

I have specific examples and anecdotal items that suggest a very disturbing pattern. Do any of you see the same? Are any of you bothered by the behind the scenes disrespect that seems to have been in operation for quite some time? If a new principal comes on board next year are any of you concerned that we may see changes that may imperil accomplishments and improvements we've made over the past years?

I could be way off in my perception, but I've heard many of you voice the same concerns. With Finals coming I am not suggesting we do anything right at the moment. I believe a staff meeting down the road may be in order for us to come together and see where we are with respects to what we see happening. It may be much ado about nothing, but we won't know unless we meet and dialogue [sic]. Maybe our building reps can give us info on what they are hearing at Rep Council meetings or invite union leadership to our building to give us some insight [on] what they are seeing........

With the possibility of big changes next year it is important that we at least know where we are all coming from. I can honestly say that I do not have any faith that the central administration will make decisions about [our school] that will be in the best interest of [our school]. While I know that they have to consider the larger interests of the district, I do not believe any attitudes or policies that try to promote equity by stripping away working, productive and proven strategies that we have implemented (and continue to improve upon) is the best solution.

Anyway, just some thoughts and concerns.......Maybe sometime early-February to mid-March would be a good time to get together. The only time now would possibly be next Thursday (not sure what is on tap for [meetings]).....and need to meet before the WASL, AP TEST time period hits us..........

This is wrong on so many levels, it hurts my head to think about it. I don't know where to start describing my reaction. I did share this message with others outside of the building who, like me, are tired of this sort of thing. I asked the author to please not include me with any future messages...and I am counting down the days (there are 8 left) until I am no longer a full-time teacher at that school.


Michaele Sommerville said...

Ack! My goodness, flashbacks to Gossip High, the Status Scene, you're right, the Narcissists' Nook! Apparently popularity and image are very, very important things, no matter how many of us *thought* we left our high school days behind us.

Sadly, your school isn't alone in its Ivory Tower grandeur.

Counting down the day with you.

The Science Goddess said...

I am looking forward to being in a school where conversations are focused on kids. This "adult" drama is ridiculous.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Good grief, how adolescent! (Maybe that does an injustice to adolescents!)

My Dad was a tongue-in-cheek advocate of psychological testing for wannabe educators. Dad looked for ethical, mature, caring, intelligent, collaborative, and selfless individuals in the schools. He joked about the testing part, but not about his expectations for his peers.

Sadly, he was often disappointed.

How the heck to these bozos get in the door, anyway!?