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Posts Tagged ‘Administrative Leadership’

Prom Attendance, Participation in Graduation Depends on Hair Style in Texas

January 24, 2020 Comments off

Of many reports that are all over Facebook, I chose this one from the Washington Post to provide an overview of a predicament a Trinidad-Amrican student faces. Here’s the headline:

Student will be barred from graduation

unless he cuts his dreadlocks, school says

Nene, who just retired from the Houston Rockets, wore dreads as does Houston wideout DeAndre Hopkins… Maybe the school might invite one of them to speak at commencement about the freedom to wear ones hair in whatever style they wish. If not, maybe they could invite the coaches of those teams to speak out for individual liberty. When athletes, music performers, and even businessmen and politicians can wear dreads, why can’t students? The double standard is not lost on them…. and if the schools are teaching students to follow-rules-for-the-sake-of-following-rules they just might be missing a key point in a democracy.

Schools CAN and SHOULD Encourage Secular Spirituality… But Stay Away from Dogma

January 21, 2020 Comments off

WBUR reporter Robin Young recently broadcast a story describing how schools across the world are introducing secular spirituality into their classrooms and detailing the benefits that students get as a result. The report was triggered by her coverage of a conference at Columbia University convened by professor Lisa Miller, the founder of the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education. Ms. Miller defines spirituality as a “deep way of being, through which we feel connected to all life, with awe and reverence for the mystery of being”, and she sees this as part of a natural progression of intellectual and emotional maturity… one that leads students to inevitably ask questions like “why am I here?”

Ms. Miller suggests that schools should not sidestep these questions, which are important for future citizens to grapple with, especially in a democracy:

All schools are tasked with preparing students for democracy, she says. Educator John Dewey said before we can have a political democracy, we must have a “spiritual or social democracy” where we learn how to speak to people with whom we disagree.

Robin Young’s report included the voices of teachers and professors who shared experiences of how spirituality-infused schools impacted children AND teachers. The report concluded with this observation from Ms. Miller:

We found most teachers go into education out of a deep sense of calling and yet there is a silencing of the deep core of the teacher. My job each day when I show up as a teacher is to draw out the possibility of the child that they don’t even know is there for themselves. … That is a different sense than subject teaching.

I would assert that children connect with those teachers who do NOT silent their deep core, who tap into the spirituality that drew them to the profession and relate to the student on a spiritual level as well as an intellectual one. When we suppress the sense of spirituality (as opposed to religion– which IS “subject teaching”), we diminish the joy of teaching AND the joy of learning.

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

January 17, 2020 Comments off

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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 Comments off

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

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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.