Once again the poll results proved to be a little bit of surprise to me. I fully expected that the number one answer on teacher retention would either be “making teachers more a part of setting policy or “better discipline policy. I was wrong. The number one strategy, with 28% of the vote, was “hire better principals”. I shouldn’t be too surprised because I’ve heard over the years from teachers what a large role a principal plays in a successful school. I have seen teachers leave what were considered plum assignments in order to follow a quality principal to another school. Seeing these results begs the question, why don’t we focus on making sure that there is a high quality principal in every highly challenged school and then trust that they will be able to staff that school with high quality teachers? It seems we never hear that portion of the conversation.
Clumped together behind “hire better principals” was “better discipline policy”, “more pay”, and “more of a voice in policy”. All three recieved roughly 18% of the vote which lends credence to many of the write in votes who stated the best strategy would be a combination of all the above. Equally of interest to me was the write in vote who said, “I think it’s different for every teacher.” I think we lose sight of that sometimes. We accept that every students learns different but we find it harder to accept that every teacher teaches different. A couple of the write in votes also referenced allowing more time. Time to plan, instructional time, and time to deepen relationships with students were used as examples. I’ve long said that more time would solve a lot of problems. Less reliance on test results would free up some time.
In looking at the community school question’s answers, it becomes apparent that people are looking to support the concept. 56% of respondents said they were highly supportive of the idea with 21% saying they were highly intrigued by the concept. There were 14% of respondents who said they weren’t familiar with the concept. If you want to keep up with what’s happening with community schools in Tennessee, The Tennessee Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is a good place to start. I must admit that I am excited to see this iniative moving forward. I think it caould pay real dividends for kids.
The last question was on MNPS’s central office’s national jaunts, also known as 80 trips in 160 days, and the nearly $600k pricetag that went withh those trips. 72% of respondents expressed a negative view on these trips. Only 7% said the trips didn’t bother them at all. It should be noted that two contempories of Dr. Joseph, Dallas Dance Director of Baltimore Schools, and Gerry Weast former director of Montgomery County Schools, have both faced questions on their districts travel policies as superintendents. Dance served on the MNPS transition team and Weast serves as kind of a advisor in the shadows to Dr. Joseph. So in truth, since history tends to repeat itself, the amount of travel shouldn’t come as a shock.
Once again I’d like to thank everybody for participating. Friday we’ll have some more questions. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my talk with Maplewood teacher Jared Amato, so look for that this week. If you’d like to get in touch with me you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week.