Let’s start by looking at the question addressed towards public educators: “What are your plans for next year.” It seems that most educators are staying put next year, with that answer reaching a total just shy of 50%. The reasons differ, though. A little over a quarter answered that they were in a good position and planned to stay right where they currently are. That’s cause for optimism. Unfortunately, the flip-side is that the remainder who answered that they were staying put said it was because “the devil you know is worse then the devil you don’t”. It’s also not cause for optimism that nearly 40% answered that they were considering leaving the district in one way or another. That should be a little concerning I would think.
Recently when questioned about a percieved high level of teacher dissatisfaction. Dr Joseph responded, and I’m paraphrasing, that he anticipated the level of anxiety would go up even higher next year as the district identifies more specific key performance indicators(KPI). He went on to say that was inevitable due to the increased level of accountability, there was no way around it. I’m going on record here, that may be the dumbest comment I’ve recently heard from a person in a position of leadership. Sorry if that offends, but I find it offensive that a leader would think so little of the people he leads.
If Dr. Joseph, as a leader, has done his ground work – outlined the goals and fully communicated how we were going to reach them, been transparent about the reasoning and philosophy behind the goals, explained everybody’s role and how that role would impact the reaching of the goals, genuinely sought buy-in, included a transparent method of measurement – why would people be anxious? There is no reason why the troops shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to get started. These are professional educators that by their very nature are looking to take kids further faster. If they are not fully engaged and excited for next year to get here, that’s on leadership.
Question 2 took a look at the practice of holding formal meetings with parents starting in 6th grade to communicate students’ college/career readiness. Over 50% of readers rejected that idea, with just 16% saying “maybe in an informal setting”. 15% of respondents thought it was a good idea. There were a couple interesting “other” comments. One being, “I’m seeing the forced drilling of college expectations create teen resentment.” That answer ties in with a theme from a book I’m currently reading. The authors discuss the concept that achievement destroys creativity. As quoted in the book Originals – How Non-Comformists Move the World, psychologists Todd Lubart and Robert Sternberg state, “Once people pass an intermediate level in the need to achieve, there is evidence that they actually become less creative.” Author Adam Grant sums it up by saying, “The more you value achievement, the more you come to dread failure. Instead of aiming for unique accomplishments, the intense desire to succeed leads us to strive for guaranteed success.” It’s a theme I plan to explore in upcoming blog posts.
The other answer that intrigued me was, “No. No one tells the truth anyway so why bother?” That’s a little troubling. In order for our democratic institutions to succeed there has to be trust. Once people lose that trust, the whole institution begins to crumble. We need to be sure to treat truthfulness with fidelity, but that’s not enough. We must be sensitive to the perception of dishonesty as well. That mere perception can do considerable damage to our society. That is a charge that is more important today then ever.
Lastly, I asked about Dad Gone Wild blog content. It seems that readers want predominately local news. I did take heart that 41% like the current mix. Going forward I will attempt continue to strike the desired balance. It seems like I’ve naturally gravitated more to local issues because nationally people like Peter Greene, Diane Ravitch, Steven Singer, Jeff Bryant, Jennifer Berkshire and others have things so well covered. Grace Tatter and Andy Spears are doing a more then adequate job on the state level. It’s hard to keep up with those folks and I encourage you to read them all. There were a couple “other” comments warning me about negativity and I will keep them in mind but won’t allow the fear of a negative perception stop me from telling stories I think need telling.
This is a very eventful week education-wise in Tennessee. TNReady kicks off across the state today. This year the state swears they are prepared, but not everybody has faith. Once again we are spending inordinate amounts of money telling people how cool the testing is. I’ve never understood the need to convince the general public that the current level of testing is necessary. Shouldn’t we be able to understand the value intrinsically?
On Wednesday, the voucher pilot bill is in the House Finance sub-committee here in Tennessee’s State Legislature. There’s no shortage of reason’s why it shouldn’t make it out, but TREE (Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence) has some especially good ones. I urge people to contact their reps or just come on down to the party at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
That’s it for now. As always, comments are welcome.