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Posts Tagged ‘Administrative Leadership’

WSJ Op Ed Demeaning Jill Biden’s Ed.D Reflects the Anti-Intellectual Brand of Trump’s GOP

December 16, 2020 Comments off

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Late last week the Wall Street Journal featured an op ed article by Joseph Epstein that chided President-elect Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, for using the honorific “Doctor”. NBC reporter Tonya Russell summarized the critique as follows:

“‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,” wrote Joseph Epstein, a longtime contributor to The Journal. “Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title ‘Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.'”

Like Jill Biden I have an Ed.D and like her I wrote my dissertation on a practical research question: does a demanding application process yield a superior pool of applicants? And, like Jill Biden I was subjected to some who questioned its legitimacy and some who used the term in a sneering and derisive way.

As Ms. Russell noted in her NBC report, an ED.D requires the same number of years as a Ph.D and is often as rigorous. Increasingly the degree is a pre-requisite for an administrative assignment because School Boards and especially recruiting consultants view it as a means of objectively screening candidates. Early in my career I was able to get interviews based on the credential and three of those interviews led to jobs as I advanced from Assistant Principal to Superintendent of a 17,000 pupil school district in a 10 year interval. In the end, I was willing to accept the criticism from the likes of Mr. Epstein because I knew how much work went into earning my degree and came to understand that it was no different than the work that went into a “real” doctorate.

Natalie Goldberg is More Forgiving of de Blasio Than I… But Her Ultimate Conclusion is He’s the Best of a Sorry Lot

December 1, 2020 Comments off

NY Times op ed writer Natalie Goldberg is always insightful, offering a unique and multi-hued perspective to issues that too many other writers reduce to black-and-white. Her column in today’s paper, “On Pandemic Schooling, de Blasio is Actually Leading“, is a good case in point. She describes the criticisms leveled against Mayor de Blasio by nearly everyone in New York City and the national press. Indeed, her opening paragraph could not be more withering:

Sometimes it seems like the single point of consensus in America’s fractured politics is contempt for New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio.

And she does a good job of explaining why that contempt exists, offering particular criticism for de Blasio’s lack of communication skills, which echoes the post I wrote yesterday about him:

De Blasio’s public communication has been characteristically awful, and his policy zigzags have induced whiplash among many parents. Those who haven’t opted into part-time in-person education probably won’t have the opportunity to return full-time; it’s a possibility only because many schools have just a small fraction of students attending. The city has done a poor job of explaining why the previous threshold for closing schools — a citywide coronavirus positivity rate of 3 percent — no longer applies.

But despite his gaffes in strategy early in the pandemic, she notes that he has struck on a path forward that is superior to that of any American mayor and, unlike many of his cohorts who lead major cities, de Blasio has worked in cooperation with the teachers union who, in turn, have looked to science for the most reasonable path forward:

“(NYC Union President Michael) Mulgrew and I were both convinced by the doctors that we were talking to, and the industrial hygienists that we were talking to,” (AFT President Randi) Weingarten said, that with the right safeguards and enough testing, “schools could reopen safely.”

In the final analysis, despite his bumbling and stumbling actions leading up to his latest decision, Ms. Goldberg concludes that de Blasio is the best that the country has to offer when it comes to overseeing the reopening of an urban school district:

His off-again-on-again reopening has been maddening, but look around the country. No matter how much people love to hate de Blasio, there aren’t many examples of mayors handling the school crisis better.

COVID Cases and Quarantines Lead to Staffing Shortages… but UNIONS are the Problem!

November 28, 2020 Comments off

AP writer Kantele Franko reports that public schools in Kansas are facing staffing challenges because staff members are sidelined due to the contracting of and exposure to COVID. This reality is one of the reasons I ultimately changed my thinking about beginning with even a partial re-opening. While it would make sense epidemiologically to open all schools serving children up to age 12 it could pose a nightmare if a particular district did not have sufficient qualified staff to educate children in socially distanced classrooms. That, in turn, could lead to even more inequities than we are encountering now. I was also afraid that what HAS happened— an expanded breakout due to colder weather– COULD happen which would lead to yet another reversal from the parents’ perspective.

Unfortunately, rather than committing to the provision of the best possible remote learning programs, many of the districts and States facing staffing challenges are instead asking that the quarantine rules be changed. I’m not an epidemiologist… but it strikes me that COVID thus far has not changed its pattern of transmission to make life easier for school administrators, teachers, or parents. It may be wishful thinking to believe that shortening the quarantine period is a solution.