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Rhode Island Superintendent Should Fire the Feds, not Teachers

Posted on March 3 2010 7:44 pm
Devoted to his lovely wife 30 years, father of two who grew up exceeding his wildest expectations, B.A. Psychology, M. Ed. Counseling, former busboy, journeyman, Church's Chicken cook, purified ice and water salesman, Coca-Cola serviceman, certified public school educator, CCNA, CCNP, Senior Network Admin for a large school district in south Texas
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Since Texas is a “Right to Work” state, no union could prevent a superintendent in Texas or any other right-to-work state from doing what the supe in Rhode Island did.

But that won’t happen in my district – or any other school district, for that matter – because (and I’m paraphrasing a past interim Superintendent) “We’re a family.”  How in the world can a Superintendent of schools make the hard budgetary decisions that are sometimes necessary if everyone who works for the district is considered “part of the family”?  Would you fire your own mother?

It’s not just the unions that have to be overcome in order to make teachers and school administrators truly accountable for student learning.  Just like that invisible 4th branch of government, there is an entrenched bureaucracy consisting of thousands of secretaries, Deans of Instruction, Department heads, Curriculum Specialists, Special Education diagnosticians, Bilingual Education specialists, and a seemingly infinte number of other support personnel who comprise the roll of employees in a typical American school district.  It is an interdependent web of well-meaning bureaucrats who feed the red tape, paper-pushing monstrosity created by the Department of Education in particular and Big Education in general.

It’s not just an uphill battle; it’s an uphill battle at night, in the rain, without weapons, against a lethal foe armed to the teeth with night vision.  It is HOPELESS.

As long as Big Education is running the show, that is.  Whenever the government inserts itself between the service provider (i.e., “teacher”) and end-user (or end-recipient, in this case, i.e., “students”) there inevitably appear an endless conga line of administrative personnel to “administer” all the federal programs.  But that’s not all.  Nothing is free.  Federal money comes with many strings attached.  There are rules that must be followed, curricula that must be adopted, teachers that must be trained, and endless meetings that must be attended to discuss the new curricula and training.  And then there are the follow-up meetings that must be attended to discuss the meetings about the curricula and training.

The “dropout problem” or the “low achieving students” problem cannot be solved by simply forcing teachers to work longer and harder.  The teachers I know work very hard and are very passionate about teaching.  One of the main problems is too much federal control.  Until we get a handle on that, we are never going to fix our broken educational system.

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