Randi Weingarten: Don’t Scapegoat Superintendents.


This week I read Randi Weingarten’s (President, American Federation of Teachers) article on how superintendents shouldn’t scapegoat their teachers.

I hate to say this, but I often agree with Ms. Weingarten’s positions.It's Me in Goat Form.

I want it noted I’m not going over to the dark side (not that I’m implying teacher’s unions are the dark side, they’re just the opposite side… and everyone needs a villain).

If I can sum up Ms. Weingarten’s position (and I think I can since this is my blog): teachers shouldn’t be the only ones who are held accountable for student achievement.

Bravo! (sorry, I just went a little Broadway on you…consider yourself lucky I didn’t throw in some jazz hands).

She believes responsibility for underperforming schools should also be placed on superintendents (and others, but superintendents made their way into the title of the article).

I couldn’t agree more.

Everyone has a role in schools being successful:  parents, teachers, communities, school board members, coaches, custodians, aides, secretaries and most importantly… lunch ladies (if you don’t believe me… try being great on an empty stomach).

Superintendents need to lead this charge.  They are in a position to demand excellence and accountability from others, but also ensure that teachers have the resources to help their students succeed (her words… not mine… because I’m not an attorney or president of anything).

I hate to take a hard line union position, but she’s right (I’m morphing into Jimmy Hoffa right before your eyes).

Superintendents need to have higher expectations.  They also need to put their students and teachers in a position to be successful.

She also points out we need to do a better job at collaboration and innovation.

Again, I agree.

I’m losing… power… to control… my… anti-union… thoughts.

Is it possible Ms. Weingarten is my kryptonite (superhero reference… always good for blog traffic).  Is it possible I’ve been miscast?  Could it be I’m not cut out for the role of superintendent?

Maybe I need to send the AFT several thousand dollars to catch up on my union dues.

I would if I could, but I can’t.  I don’t completely agree with her and I just can’t (you almost had me under your spell Madame President).

She’s left out one fundamental fact.

Getting rid of bad teachers is too complicated.

It’s too easy to get in a classroom and it’s way too hard to remove bad teachers once they are there.  Our tenured system is overprotective of bad teachers.  The union is only as good as their worst teacher.  This is unfortunate.  Unfortunate for students who sit in these classrooms.

Unions like to focus on their best and brightest teachers (as they should).

Superintendents are put in a position where they have to deal with the not best and brightest (somebody has to do it).

We need a system that will allow us to quickly address (i.e. remove) the teachers who aren’t helping students learn.

And I think the same type of plan should go for administrators.

If you’re bad, get out.

If you aren’t getting the job done you need to be gone today.  Not tomorrow.  Not next year.  Not after two or three years of remediation. Not when you decide to retire.

Today.

I’ve heard the arguments about this not being fair.  Evil administrators will get rid of great teachers (why would they do this?)  People need time to improve.

I’m not buying this.

Students don’t have time.

Their education is on the clock (tick, tick, tick).

We are in the business of helping students learn aren’t we?

If a child has one terrible teacher during their 13 years of education, they’ve lost 7.7% of a quality education.

It only gets worse if they have 2, or 5, or 9 bad teachers (if you don’t believe me, ask a math teacher).

I wish teachers didn’t get so much blame when it comes to failing schools.   I wish it was spread around.

But teachers get blamed because they’re 99.9% of the reason students succeed.

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Be Careful. Evaluations Happen at the Oddest Times.


As you know (or don’t), I’m experiencing a rather weird situation.

No.

Not the rash.  That’s still a whole different story (any opportunity to use the word salve in a blog I take it… and I just did).

The Evil Spawn is in my wife’s 4th grade class.

You may be thinking this must be weird for them, but who really cares.

The important thing is it’s weird for me.

Why?

Because it is.Someone is Watching You.

And it’s my blog, so we are going to focus on my issues (but not all of them because of time constraints).

Having my daughter in her mother’s class struck me as odd from the very beginning.

It’s like prom.

I’ve said it before, the only good thing that can happen (for me… and I’m guessing you’re not surprised) is nothing bad happens.

A successful prom night for me is probably a boring night for the kids.

And I’m okay with that.

I feel the same about this “4th grade experiment”.

The only good thing that can come out of it is nothing bad happens.

No awkward Parent-Teacher Conferences.  No uncomfortable holiday parties.  No field trips where I have to chaperone and share a bus seat with 6 smelly kids over the course of an 18 hour day (which means 17 hours on the bus…  40 minutes in a museum…. and 20 minutes sitting at a picnic table eating a hot sandwich that’s supposed to be cold… probably in the rain).

When the school year started I envisioned a lot of crying.

I wasn’t sure by whom, but I figured one of the four of us would have some sort of breakdown (Buddy the Dog can be very emotional).

Much to my surprise, things have gone smoothly (I have the strange feeling I just jinxed myself).

I shouldn’t be surprised because this goes along with my theory on things almost always turn out just the opposite of what you expect (good and bad… so if you’re anticipating something good happening in the next few days… beware).

They both seem to be enjoying their year together, which means I get to enjoy my time at home.

The only thing that has struck me as odd is the Evil Spawn seems to be doing a year-long observation (the apple doesn’t fall far from the administrative tree).

Each night she comes home and critiques her mother’s performance.

It’s like getting a Broadway review after EVERY show.

Mom was interesting.  Mom was okay.  Mom was funny.  Mom got annoyed.  Mom got tickled.  Mom seemed tired.  Mom danced (ugh).  Mom’s timing was just a little off when she delivered a punch line during the math lesson (again… apple… not far from the tree).

For me it’s been an opportunity to experience my wife teaching without being in the classroom.

For the evil one, it’s a once in a lifetime chance to spend an entire year with her mom watching what she does best (not dance).

But for my wife?

It’s a year-long evaluation at the dinner table.

Good thing she has tenure.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.