Saturday, July 24, 2010

Looking for a Principalship? Come “Reform” a School!

The Philadelphia Inquirer of Wednesday, February 18, 2009, reported that the superintendent of the School District of Philadephia intended to “reform” 30 to 35 of its “worst-performing” schools by shutting them down and possibly outsourcing their administration and teaching staff to whoever want to try to make a go of it.

Does anyone remember the great fiasco of the 1970’s and 80’s called performance contracting? Has anyone ever heard of “grab the money and run?”

Aside from the School Board’s avoiding its responsibilities under the contract with the teachers’ union, does anyone think pumping fresh blood into cadavers will bring about their resurrection?

But just think of the job opportunities – there will be quite a few!

Just think again!

During the period of my employment with the School District of Philadelphia, 1965 – 1992, recruiters invariably embellished or downright misrepresented job conditions to seduce new staff into the schools, particularly after 1970. Administrators as well as teachers suffered a rude awakening when problems came up; they were offered little support from a governing body who could not tolerate even a mention of any of “elephants” that inhabited the boardroom, for example, political hacks receiving salaries as “ghost” teachers; a high level of violence in many schools; theft of equipment right under the noses of the “security” staff, contracts with local universities in exchange for quickie administrative certifications, etc.

School administrators, whose top officer had no experience as a principal, even joined the Teamster’s Union to protect themselves! ( to little avail since they were reluctant to take any action, even when they were being punished by forced transfer for resisting the whims of the Superintendent.)

School reform is unlikely to come from the top down, especially when it is taken for granted that the political structures that really govern the district are not to be disturbed.

But when is “reform” really needed? And possible?

To examine these issues further,
see The Need for and Possibilities of Educational Reform

-- EGR

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