Dark clouds, silver lining
He's speaking in the context of a protracted contract dispute (going on two years, which strikes me (pardon the term) as beyond protracted)and says important things in his piece. It's what I quoted above, though, that struck me hardest, in no small part because it resembles my own experience. I wish I couldn't relate.
I taught for 28 years. Without bothering to count assistant principals (whose turnover was even higher), I did so under the leadership of ten different building administrators. Actually, two of them hired me in May and had retired by the time I actually started serving on the campus, so let's say it was only eight.
The first seven years it was all the same principal. The second seven were split between two. The last fourteen there were five, so right in the same problematic neighborhood Dan talks about for 75% of my teaching career: inconsistent leadership.
Stop and think about what that means: it's not at all uncommon for public schools to change leaders with over twice the frequency that our country has, and at this time when people are so vigorously and verbally concerned about the performance of those same schools.
I'm not about to blame any of those who left behind the task of writing my evaluations in response to greener pa$ture$. I'll be cynical about the lure of the almighty dollar, but I won't blame them for following it. Some of my favorite lures are green, too, so I understand.
However, I want to return to Dan's point(s): it is the teachers who make the school, and consistent leadership matters. I'm concerned that an ever-expanding educational bureaucracy seems dominated by entrepreneurs. Of the eight I worked for, only two principals struck me as genuinely interested in the students; the others were there for the financial or bureaucratic mobility the position offered: the green frosting on the other side of the fence.
We're living in an age wherein teachers, much as they might want to make, as much as they might hope to make, as much as they might actually succeed in making a difference with individual students, are viewed as interchangable steps on an invisible ladder by the people who revolve through the leadership door. We want to be consistent. We need to be consistent. Because when you get right down to the bottom line, none of it works without us. We are the school.
And then every two or three years, the wind changes direction...