Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is the Council of the Great City Schools Fall Conference a boondoggle?

When I was a student in the APS, there was a week in the fall that students eagerly anticipated.  It was the week of Teacher Convention and students got a couple of days off.

Likely there were teachers who looked forward to that week as well; an opportunity to get together with other practitioners and improve their individual and collective practice.

Teachers no longer have conventions, but administrators do.
In town this week the Council of the Great City Schools convention.

The leadership of the APS is deeply involved, link.  A great deal of energy and resources are being invested, link.  They've even hired a social media expert, link, to help them tweak their tweeting, link, about all the important stuff they're doing.

A fair question;

To what advantage are these resources being spent insofar as the average student is concerned?
Every time the leadership of the APS go on one of their little adventures, I dare them come back and tell us what they learned in exchange for the energy and resources they spent.  I dare them to come back and tell stakeholders what they learned of any consequence at all, that they should not have already known.

There is no magic.  There are no secrets.

If there were really magic and secrets to be shared, we would be sharing them with teachers at teacher conventions; not with a bunch of high paid administrators and board members none of whom have any impact whatsoever on students in classrooms.

APS leadership can go long and hard on the benefits of this latest adventure.  For one, they're claiming the conference is bringing $5M to our cash strapped local economy.

But that begs another fair question;
While the economic impact may be all well and good for the city, is that really what we where we want the leadership of the APS spending their energy and our resources?  
Improving education for 89,000 of this community's sons and daughters is well and good for the city too; arguably, even more so.

What these conventions really are, are opportunities for "important" people to pat each other on the back and tell each other how important they are. If these conventions were of real value, the board members and senior administrators who attend could take a minute during matters of importance at the next school board meeting, and tell us
  1. what they learned,
  2. how what they learned will improve the lot of students, and
  3. why they didn't already know about it.
They will not.  They never have.  They never will.

Just watch.

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