Cross posted at: www.TheRightPrincipalFor.us
In my previous post I referred to a book that I was starting to read, The Wizard and the Warrior: Leading with Passion and Power . I write today in the spirit of what I've read to date.
Throughout my work in education I've often heard people refer to doing "what's best for children". What I'm pondering at this moment is if that philosophy of action can coexist in an environment of competition and limited resources. Competition in the sense of districts/schools pitted against one another, struggling to keep/gain students during times of declining enrollment. Resources in the sense of funding formulas and educational reform acts.
With current educational funding formulas and educational reform initiatives (such as NCLB) tying school funding to school performance and school performance to high-stakes, one snapshot in time, testing.... can we truly live up to the motto of doing what's best for all children?
Can we take an honest look in the mirror for a moment? Are we really meeting the needs of all children by measuring their growth and achievement through standardized assessments? By their nature, and the definition, does "standardized" not eliminate meeting all learners? Or is it that our student bodies can be neatly summed up, measured, and stamped USDA GRADE A/B/C as they proceed down the assembly line?
Are public schools being set up to choose between doing what's best for all students or doing what's best for most students?
Some will read this and say, that's the point, reach most students... NCLB, funding program xyz, are great.... they make us reflect on why we are doing what we are doing and making sure we are following standards and moving children forward. Fine. If that's the case, why don't we just say that we're doing what best for most children. But let us not pretend that this system meets the needs of all students and that all students will be proficient by year 2???.
How does this relate to leadership in education? When, and how many voices will it take, before we say, "No More." and we are heard? When will those creating policy realize that we, in public school education, are not creating widgets. Some pearls of wisdom now come to mind from an administrator I work with...... if it's my job to help those around me (staff) succeed, then I must make the time and resources available for them to do so. Defining success for each child can not be done through standardized testing nor can change be initiated through the public flogging of education. Let us identify what is not working and what is working. Let us provide those in education with the support, time, and resources needed to improve instruction and learning.
Thank you for your time.