Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pursuing a Career in Education. It Ain’t About Student Achievement.

Just like many a big private or parochial school, big public schools are bureaucracies. And many have come to be run by administrators – escapees, often, from the classroom -- for whom career takes precedence over place. “Be true to your school!” is preached to students, few others.

A principal looks to become superintendent; a superintendent, mayor, perhaps, or state commissioner of education. “Don't rock the boat,” “Suffer fools gladly,” “Go with the majority opinion – no matter how blatantly uninformed,” are rules for getting ahead. So it is that really dealing with problems in today's schools places one's career at risk. In many places around this Home of the Brave and Land of the Free, principals (and teachers) have been removed for being too concerned with student achievement or well-being.

Consequently, some principals will deal with the problem of student misbehavior by refusing to allow it official recognition. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Tough kids aren’t bullying: they’re just “fooling around.” Girls who complain of sexual harassment are merely “flirting.” School suspension rates will be reduced by some administrative procedure – “in-house” suspensions which do not affect attendance rates, -- rather than by trying to deal with the reason for those suspensions -- an iffy if not overwhelming task.

Student achievement rates will be raised by pressuring teachers to grade less stringently. Plagiarism is accepted as a research method. Parents, especially in middle-class neighborhoods, collude in this chicanery. After all, it helps their kids get into “good” colleges (where they continue to cheat their way through advanced degrees and professional certificates). None of this, of course, helps students learn or adds to human knowledge or well-being, but such machinations can do wonders for an administrator’s career.

To examine these issues further, see Opting Out of Public School: Eluding the Bureaucracy


No comments:

Post a Comment