Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Administrative Leadership’

One Step Forward, Five Steps Back on Nutritious Lunch for Children

January 17, 2020 Leave a comment

apple.news/ArX94SjL-Tr6PyDKCaQMXnw

It was no surprise that President Trump rolled back the upgraded nutritional guidelines for school lunch that Michelle Obama proudly and successfully fought for… but the roll backs described in this Washington Post article are appalling. Not only do they reinforce poor dietary habits by replacing vegetables and fruits with french fries and burgers but they also reinforce the bad old days when lobbyists prevailed when it came to making decisions about what food to serve to children whether or not their products are healthy or not.

Appalling… but consistent with the actions in all realms of the current administration.

Alabama Legislature, State Department of Education Are Poster Children for Poorly Crafted and Executed Charter Laws

January 14, 2020 Leave a comment

I just finished reading guest columnist Larry Lee’s op ed in the Alabama Political Reporter and came away bewildered by what transpired in that state and even more confused about what was supposed to happen. Mr. Lee, a former local school board member, opens the article with this paragraph:

It is nigh impossible to figure out what is going on with charter schools in Montgomery.  Whether it is by design, deception or a bushel of inaptitude, the situation is clearly defying sections of the charter law and thumbs its nose at what is legal and what is not.

Mr. Lee appears to be a good writer, a clear thinker, and a board member committed to improving public education. But, despite his craftsmanship as a writer and cogency, it required two readings to figure out how Alabama’s charter law was supposed to work… but only one reading to see how easy it was to muddy things up given the convoluted governance model built into the legislation. To make a long story short, it seems that despite the teeth that appear to be in the law, if anyone wants to launch a charter school the door is wide open and the regulatory agencies are toothless…. and they are made worse by the reality that the law is poorly designed, intentionally opaque and confusing, and overseen by a State department that displays a bushel of ineptitude. The losers in all of this are the children whose district decided to get on the charter train, for they are likely being served by schools that are populated with unqualified teachers, avaricious administrators, and poorly written curricula. But the taxpayers are probably happen as are the lobbyists who undoubtedly helped the legislature write the bills that made this possible.

Yale Legitimatizes Eli Broad’s “Run-Schools-Like-A-Business” Model… and the Washington Post Misses It!

January 4, 2020 Comments off

Our local newspaper, the Valley News, just reprinted a December 5 Washington Post article by Susan Svrluga extolling the Broad Foundation for providing a free education to aspiring urban Superintendents through their business school. The article leads with a quote from a Florida Superintendent describing her experience as a newly appointed county Superintendent:

Barbara Jenkins studied education, and she worked in schools for years. But when she was named a superintendent, she was still surprised by the abrupt change in responsibilities. “You think a superintendent is like the lead principal or lead teacher for a school district,” she said. “But you have to think more like a CEO of a major corporation.”

The choice of Barbara Jenkins to represent the typical Broad alumni is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worse given that the typical “Broadie” is someone who might have worked for a couple of years as a teacher and then accepted an assignment as a “CEO” in a district where a school board (usually one appointed by a mayor) outsourced leadership services or where a mayor who was given the authority to oversee schools decided to “reform” them by applying business principles.

I am surprised the Washington Post, who features Valerie Strauss as a reliably anti-“reform” blogger and writer published an article that overlooked the Broad program’s flaws.

Women in Politics

December 12, 2019 Comments off

NYTimes reporter Maggie Astor’s article, “She’s 16 and Wants to Be President…“, describes the increased engagement of young women in politics… especially the engagement of young women who lean to the left. Why? Because the policies of the POTUS are inimicable to women and the major issues facing their generation– climate change and gun control— are not being tackled by today’s politicians.

I was heartened to read about this trend, for I do believe women tackle problems in a more collaborative way than men and that unity and collaboration— not division and combativeness— will be the key to solving these complicated issues. But I was dismayed to read how advocates for gender equity are framing their arguments, using phrases calling for young women to be “flexing their political power and normalizing political ambition”. Ultimately, in a well functioning democracy, “flexing” is less important than “flexibility” and when flexing is the dominant paradigm we witness a division in government that makes it impossible to achieve the kinds of bipartisan solutions needed to address thorny issues like climate change, gun control, and birth control.

Networking with Mentors COULD Offer Opportunities for Equity

November 18, 2019 Comments off

apple.news/Aq8JxkazARaSM5IgelMxLdA

The kind of networking described in this article mirrors the kind of networking Ivan Illich envisioned in Deschooling Society. I’m glad to see technology being used for this kind of initiative.

This Just In: Recess Helps… A LOT! It Allows Children to Be Children and Not Data Points

August 16, 2019 Comments off

In yet another study that proves the sun will rise every day, researchers gathered data that proves the value of recess. “Becky” who writes for Your Modern Family reports:

…research is actually showing how schools with more recess have happier, smarter, and more focused students.   In fact, recess even helps students to be more friendly and social.

“Recess is the only place in school, maybe the only place in their social life, where kids have the opportunity to develop social skills with their peers,” says Murry, former chairman of the AAP’s Council on School Health.

And why was recess ever considered unworthy? If you guessed that it ate into time needed to prepare for standardized tests you’ve been a careful and diligent reader of this blog for the past eight years. And guess what country assures recess at all costs AND consistently outscores the US in international tests? FINLAND!

Strong research in Finland shows that children who engage in more physical activity and play do better academically than children who are sedentary.  From kindergarten through eighth grade, students in Finland spend 15 minutes of every hour in recess, enjoying unstructured outdoor play. During that time, they love to make up games, expanding their imaginations and creativity.”

15 minutes per HOUR… as opposed to our country that often tacks 15 minutes of recess onto the end of lunch period. For those who scoff that it would never work in our country, Becky has some news for you. A program called the LiiNK Project provided more recess for students and, voila, test scores went up!

A school in Texas took part in the LiiNK Project, where students in K-1 had four 15-minute recess breaks a day.   “Adopting LiiNK requires eliminating one hour of instructional time each day. That is a high risk for educators who believe more instruction leads to higher test scores. But research shows vast benefits to providing kids recess.”

“In districts that have adopted LiiNK, the teachers, administrators, and parents raved about its effects on students. The additional recess, they said, helped their kids focus better, misbehave less, and even lose weight. There were benefits for teachers, too. Sandra Hill, a third-grade teacher at Chavez with 18 years experience, said better-behaved kids improved her morale. She described the difference between teaching LiiNK kids and the kids at her previous schools as “night and day.”   “This year was hands down, the easiest year I’ve had with behavior.”

Cindy Griggs, a kindergarten teacher at Eagle Mountain Elementary, a LiiNK school in Fort Worth, described a similar change. Recalling her students’ behavior before LiiNK was implemented four years ago, she said, “They were always antsy, messing with the name tags on their desks, poking each other, rolling around on the floor.”

But now with the extra recess: “They’re able to get all that energy out. Coming in, they’ll just be sitting on the carpet zoned in and engaged for 45 minutes.”

A Texas college professor and elementary school Principal were given the last words on this topic, which included lots of links to lots of reports substantiating the value of recess and unstructured play:

Professor and associate dean at Texas Christian University, Debbie Rhea, launched the recess initiative, reminding her of her childhood.   “We have forgotten what childhood should be.   And if we remember back to before testing—which would be back in the ’60s, ’70s, early ’80s—if we remember back to that, children were allowed to be children.”

“Test scores don’t tell you everything you need to know about a child,” she said. “I hope people can understand that. In this age of accountability and testing, I think we’ve forgotten that we’re dealing with these little kids with their little hearts,and they need to be nurtured too.” – Principal Elizabeth Miller, Chavez Elementary School.

And here’s what is saddening to this retired veteran school superintendent: anyone who entered the teaching profession after NCLB has NEVER known of a time when “children were allowed to be children”.We now have a generation of teachers who know of nothing except accountability based on standardized testing… teachers who themselves were subjected to passing fill-in-the-bubble tests to prove they had the ability to deal with little kids with their little hearts. The sooner we move away from this “meritocracy” based on tests the better!

In “Call Me By My True Names”, Thich Nhat Hanh Points Out a Troubling Reality that Princeton Professor Drives Home

August 7, 2019 Comments off

I just watched the YouTube video embedded below featuring Eddie Glaude, a Princeton Professor who talked with MSNBC about the recent killings in El Paso and Dayton. Watch it… and then read Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem, Call Me By My True Names, that is pasted below the video clip. My concluding thoughts follow the poem.

Call Me By My True Names

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow— even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate.

And I am also the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands. And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open,the door of compassion.

In response to the relentless accumulation of deaths due to mass shootings, politicians are drawn to quick solutions, solutions based on linear Western thought. If we limit guns we will limit deaths. If we identify potential killers and deny them the chance to acquire weapons we will limit deaths. If we stopped the sale of video games that graphically engage players in shooting enemies we will limit deaths. These solutions connect dots…. but as Mr. Glaude and Thich Nhat Hanh point out, there is an interdependence in play that requires each of us to examine ourselves and identify the role we are playing in increasing the violence and hatred in our world.

Can schools teach self-awareness and interdependence? It is a question I am wrestling with… and one I hope others who support public education will examine as well.