A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, July 01, 2010

He's a suitor! He's bona FIDE. And he's gone.

As I watch yet another beloved colleague of mine leave our district to become an administrator somewhere else, I will admit that I am feeling a bit bitter.

Of course, the news that my friend was leaving did not come as a complete surprise. We could see it coming from the moment that we were informed that some twenty-something year old dude was hired for the opening we had for an assistant principal. And why did we have an opening for an assistant principal? Because the AP was leaving after being passed over in favor of yet another outside candidate. And so the circle will be unbroken...

Now my friend had seemingly proved himself over and over again in his bona-fides for the job. We have a habit in our building of taking teachers with administrative certification out of their classrooms and placing substitutes in their stead so that they can then sub for administrators who are taking vacation days or at a workshop or out ill (Don't start with me about this!). This he had done cheerfully. He had also served as a principal in short term positions as needed. In each instance, all reviews were glowing. He's calm (I've never seen him get angry, I swear) but firm, he's reasonable, he's knowledgeable about how students behave in the classroom and the challenges of teaching because he's been there on the front lines for more than two seconds. He understands what steps an administrator must perform in order to make sure that the ability to teach and learn are foremost as the primary business of a school.

Perhaps that was what concerned the PTB. As we tried to understand this incomprehensible decision to hire a guy who had never stayed in any one position for more than two years, this did occur to some of us. As I look at the people responsible for the hiring decisions, I see no one who taught for more than five years. NOT ONE. And I have come to the sad realization that, with the addition of our newest administrator, all by my lonesome I will actually have more classroom teaching experience than all six of our building administrators. Combined. And I am NOT that old. Really (Not a gray hair on my head!)!

So why is there this trend to shy away from actual educators when looking for people to administer a school? Further, why is there this tendency in my district to raise up amazing administrators from our ranks-- for the benefit of surrounding school districts only, of course. No such thing as growing our own leaders around here.

I am truly amazed at the lack of judgment and foresight that keeps being demonstrated in these personnel decisions. I'm certainly glad I've never felt a particular yen to move into administration, because that would mean I would have to leave.

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At 7/1/10, 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much of the current reform going on targets experience.

In my state they are weakening tenure.

TfA - 2 years and out, right?

The CMO charters and the small schools that look like them burn through teachers in 1-3 years.

The emphasis on testing - provides numbers for non-educators to "analyze"

The emphasis on "measurable" drives much of the Core Standards, again to the benefit of non-educators.

Plus, we have top level managers who forever have been nervous about having smart subordinates.

That's what I think.

Jonathan jd2718

At 7/1/10, 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your friend may not know how to sell himself the way the whipper-snappers do or he may have pissed someone off in a way that you would never see. In-breeding has it's costs as well.

That said, I feel your pain. I just left a position because they offered me no chance for advancement. It's stupid and shortsighted - I think they expected that, having tenure, I would never leave.

At 7/6/10, 10:04 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Jonathan, once again you make some very astute points. Non-educators believe that education can be quantified-- and by "non-educators" you have to include many administrators who spent little to no time in the classroom.

The arrogant and dismissive "he'll never leave" attitude is something I definitely think plays a part in these decisions. After all, the Peter Principle has some effect in the careers of some of the people who make these decisions-- THEY'LL never leave, because where else will they have it so good?

But this guy is a very good "politician"-- and I do not use that term pejoratively in this case.


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