Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
Everybody knows the war is over. Everybody
knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows
the fight was fixed: the poor stay poor, the rich
get rich. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.
It’s a cold, cruel world out there … the plutocracy has seemingly endless resources and their attacks are unrelenting. It’s discouraging when Steve Jobs, the Apple guy, blames teacher unions for all the ills of the school systems. A New York Sun op ed piece lauds Jobs and bemoans the power of teachers unions. Democracy is a bitch!
As reported in Edwize many states prohibit teacher union collective bargaining or place sharp constraints on public employee unions. Needless to say those states don’t have better test scores.
Klein and company agree with Jobs but are restrained by the reality of politics. When the “newspaper of record,” the NYTimes challenges Joel’s newest makeovers he decides to change his persona: from the tough, unyielding ideologue to the softer, kinder Chancellor.
The Department has not backed away from it’s views that the “carrot and the stick” will produce higher tests scores. The newly imposed School Progress Report is based on the premise that the “threats” of unsatisfactory ratings as a result of a poor grade will somehow make for better principals and “threats” of denying tenure will make for better teachers.
The scions of education in the Apple ignore a wealth of evidence from experts. You don’t improve performance through fear and intimidation: you create successful organizations by building strong cultures. Deal and Kent write:
Beneath the conscious awareness of everyday life in schools, there is a stream of thought and activity. The underground flow of feelings and folkways wends its within schools, dragging people, programs and ideas toward often unstated purposes: ‘This invisible taken-for-granted flow of beliefs and assumptions give meaning to what people say and do. It shapes how they interpret hundreds of daily transactions. This deeper structure of life in organizations is reflected and transmitted through symbolic language and expressive action. Culture consists of the stable, underlying meaning that shapes beliefs and behavior over time.” (Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson. Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership, p.3.)
When Klein taps principals on both shoulders with the holy sword he does not pass along leadership skills. It is the led who determine the skills of the leader. In the “real” world leadership is acquired incrementally, step by step, either through a rigorous selection process combined with frequent assessments and promotions. It is only at the Department of Education that leaders with little or no supervisory experience are promoted to school leadership.
In too many schools the Department seems to encourage cultures of “us versus them,” teachers versus the school administration. On a citywide level “Klein” has become world of denigration.
They just don’t get it!
The “beatings will continue until morale improves” mantra is still chiseled above the den of thieves. As parents and teachers continue “calling out” Tweed Klein and company have tried to make amends – adding bus routes and backing off putting housing high schools in elementary school buildings.
The key to individual school and systemwide success of not which reading program you use: it is collaboration. It is a culture of city, Department and school leaders working together with parents, union leaders and teachers in a culture of collaboration.