Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eubank Elementary School staff is "sick". Winston Brooks is the cure?

In the Journal this morning, link, we read that Eubank Elementary School is "struggling".  The Journal coverage amounts to reporting the administrative spin on the problem, as usual.  Data on real problems at the school; violence, drugs, weapons, chronic disobedience; is still being carefully, deliberately, hidden, link.

The data they provide on the struggle is predictably sketchy.  The usual demographic data can be found on APS' award winning website, link.  It is not unimportant data.  If a school has a high turnover in students, those students will struggle.  If students are largely poor, they will struggle.  If new students are expected to join a marching band on the run, a thought choir in continuous recital, they will struggle, and so on through a list of factors over which teachers have no control.

There are other elements in play, elements that are at least somewhat within the control of teachers and staff, not the least of which is the synergy in the school community.  The administrative perspective on synergy is, all you have to do is find the "right" administrator.

It is based on the belief that there are people who know more than everyone else altogether, and all you have to do is find them and put them in charge of failing schools.  There is no need to empower staffs and other interest holders.

There are somewhere around a hundred thousand years of teaching experience in the APS and no seat for any of them, at the table where decisions are made.

It has been argued; the most important decision a group will make, is when they decide how decisions will be made, and further, that it should be their first decision.

In the APS decisions are made by the superintendent or administrators acting in his stead.  It doesn't make any difference what teachers or other community members think.

APS Supt Winston Brooks is fond of going on input gathering tours, they're good for public relations, but if anyone but Brooks thinks they have any decision making power, they're sadly mistaken.

If Brooks is so hot, how did the "struggles" at Eubank come as such a surprise to him?

None of us is as smart as all of us.  The supt isn't smarter than all of his subordinates, they are not smarter than theirs, and principals are not smarter than all the teachers who work in their schools.  The solutions to the struggles in public education are not going to be found in an endless search for the perfect administrator; s/he doesn't exist.  Wouldn't s/he have written a book?

Hailey Heinz, David Peercy, Brad Winter
Journal reporter Hailey Heinz pointed out that a quarter of the staff at Eubank ES have already left and more might leave when they see the administrative plan for redesign.

She did not apparently, interview any of them to report upon their perspective.  Or, perhaps she did, and chose to not report upon it.

They're only teachers; what would they know?

photos Mark Bralley

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