Links to other sites on the Web: Back to the Academic Page
MEMORIUM NUMBER 10:
From the files of the Revisionary School District
Recent events have outlined the need for a new program of instruction for administrators within this district. The following news editorial, as culled from Rumpland Press, should serve as an introduction of the problem..
By Paula Paper
Once again, the annual results of the survey of PTSA Affiliates has come out, and, surprizingly, the Revisionary School District had both the administrators singled out as the worst in the entire state. This survey is an annual exercise t
hat PTSA indulges in to balance the generally rosy picture of school administration shown by awards given by the Chamber of Commercials. The administrators are graded on a number of factors including test scores, average daily attendance, and lengthy survey distributed to parents, students, teachers, and administrators. Typically, the worst administrators come from the fringes of the state, the cow country, the ski belt, etc., but this year both administrators came straight from the heart of the powerful, noisily progressive Revisionary School District. While such an award may only indicate that Revisionary is too big to deal with all its incompetents, it may also indicate a basic inability on the part of Revisionary's beaurocracy to recognize, recruit, and reward good administrators. Let's consider Revisionary's two "winners."
First, there is Norman A. Thud, known to his school personnel as "Bethuddled." Thud got his administrative credential from U. Arealoser two years ago, and has since run Elegant Elementary into the ground. Evaluators at the site found children running around the school grounds, during class. Test scores were running far below the regime of the previous principal. Teachers reported that all parent phone calls had to be performed "in the principal's presence," which greatly inhibited their ability to change student behavior. Thud believes in the concept of "self-realization" and has thrown out all codes of student conduct or dress. His greatest triumph, as an administrator, has been his quest to get all students to learn the school song (which he wrote), and he accomplished this through testing them individually and sending those home on suspension unable to belt out a few verses. Thud is very cheerful and optimistic about his school's future.
Vying with Thud in incompetence in Kadesha Krud, the new principal two years ago of Migrane Junior High. Four years ago Kadesha attended the master's degree program of Ripp U. Kadesha was promoted on the strength of her faculty evaluations at Simplimatic Elementary; rumor has it Simplimatic had simply had enough. Kadesha's rule at Migrane might be termed "the macoroni fist inside the paper glove." Kadesha's major move has to be her total restructuring of school authority into a pyramid (critics call it a "truncated pyramid") with her at the top. While test scores have maintained, many student programs have failed simply because Kadesha delegates all paperwork to someone else. Perhaps epitomal of Kadesha's reign is one teacher's comment that "she's the only principal I know that can stay in her office and be out at a meeting."
Isn't it high time that the citizens of Rumpland stop taking all the punches and do something? Revisionary needs to be criticized more often, particularly regrading their hiring and certifying of administrators. It's fine for Revisionary to talk about reforming and changing society, but I'd like to see them start in their own offices and work downward through the people in charge of our schools.
In the short run, it might seem fine to our critics to upgrade our administrative reviews. This will be done by making the reviews yearly and incorporating some of the criterion used in the PTSA worst administrator awards, especially the faculty surveys. Revisionary does not want the public believing that administrators such as those two charicatured above have charge over their students. Though most of administrators are good, the article has pointed out that the District could take some steps to upgrade its administrator selection program.
In the long run, then, Revisionary needs a program that will guarantee that administrators have the quality and vision to carry out Revisionary's motto: "tomorrow begins here."
This motto of ours is not just a trite way of saying that children are our future. "Tomorrow begins here" means that if there's a better way of doing things, Revisionary will adopt that way NOW so that the future is better for our students. As I've often stated in my memos to the district, and if you look on the streets of Rumpland, society is falling apart around our walls.It's not enough for our schools to to maintain themselves as islands amid the chaos; we must build our school society in such a way that when the new society comes, Revisionary can serve as a model, a view that might be termed "reconstructionist," (Morris and Van Cleve: 1976) . The corollary of that is that every one of our islands, our schools, cannot participate in the decline, but must be shining examples to the desperate world around us. Revisionary needs the best admistrators. That's why a committee from the entire District, inlcuding myself, wrote the following program, and I urge you to support the program. If you qualify for the following program, or know someone who qualifies, please contact the recruitment section for the program.
Reginald Hightower, Superintendent
In recent years, it has become apparent that the quality of administrators in the Revisionary School District has declined. Like most big city school districts, ours relies, in general, on a policy of future administrator self- selection. Teachers apply to one of our prestigious local universities such as Ripp U or U. Areloser to enter the Master's degree program. Graduates then apply for the positions with Revisionary as they open. The results have not been entirely positive, and the Primeministrator Academy Program will try to solve some of these problems.
Several serious problems plague the present system. First, the system encourages an accumulation of costly administrative education. We now have approximately three administrators available for each position. This constitutes a considerable monetary investment because our present contract with the Union, the United Foolish Teacher, UFooT, specifies that teachers need to accumulate units in order to advance up the salary scale. The District is essentially paying teachers to accumulate administrative expertise they cannot use instead of paying them to attend classes to improve their teaching, which would improve the District. What's needed is a manner of sorting teachers so that those who will fill the administrative positions attend preadministrator classes and those who will not attend other classes to improve the district.
Another problem with our present program is that it is essentially self-selective, meaning the many potentially first-rate people are left out because they simply do not think they can be good adminstrators or haven't yet acquired the self-confidence. This is particularly distressing because of our need to encourage minorities to enter administration. What's required is a system that recognizes self-selection, but gives more encouragement to the undecided. We need experienced voices involved in the selection procedure.
Then, the education provided by the universities is of questionable value. Many professors at Ripp U. haven't seen a child in years or a principal's office since their last fight in grade school. Theory may be fine, but a proper administrative preparation program must prepare for the real world of running a school on a daily basis.
Finally, another fault with our self-selection system is that it furthers the District's tendency to have the wrong people at the wrong places. Applicants for a position simply take any position available, and, due to the gigantic surplus, often end up going any place available. The net result is that many adminstrators must make long commutes to work, subtracting from their enthusiasm and work time. Again, the situation is particularly acute in the poorest areas, such as East Smellville, where nearly every administrator drives over an hour to get to work. Needless to say, the administrator there gets transferred out as quickly as possible, giving such an area yet another disadvantage along with those already inherent. What's needed is a selection process that will target administrators from areas most needed.
The Academy program is specifically designed to meet all the above objectives. The program is loosely based on the similar Los Angeles Unified School District Teacher Training Program (Los Angeles Unified School District, 1984) and also incorporates some aspects of a traditional training program of a law or other professional school.
Before selection to the Primeministrator Academy, the District would conduct a yearly needs assessment. The assessment would decide which schools anticipated the need for an administrator to fill a positon. The district would then allocate exactly as many sports for the Academy, divided by region, plus 20%. This would guarantee the District would only be recruiting the number of administrators it needed. The District, in January, would then advertise on a regional basis with fliers all over the schools. Positions would be filled only by personnel within the area or living within a twenty miles radius outside.
The initial process would begin with administrators' reccomending personnel within their region (a yearly maximum of one per elementary, two per junior high, and three per senior high). Those nominated by the administrators would have the option of following through by submitting an application, transcript, etc. or declining. A council of adminssions would then screen through the applicants to assemble a ranked list from which personnel would be drawn. Every step of the application process would be secret until the final step in late April: a gala district reception for those accepted. This process would ensure that the timid, but talented, would get a chance at the program as well as balancing the input of administrators and the applicants in the administrative selection process.
After the initial selection, all the "cadets" would pack their belongings and move, in late April, into the dormitories at Ripp U or U. Arealoser(north) for three months of intensive background in educational administrative theory. Students would be purposely roomed by region to increase "bonding." Students would take four classes in this three months' period and those with insufficient academic performance would be dropped. The District would pay all the costs of schools and salary comparable to that which the teacher would receive in the classroom.
The second phase of insturction would begin in June and last until the following September. The future administrators would visit with and work for five local schools near Ripp U. (Quagmire and Zilch elementary, Toughroad Junior High, and Hapless and Hopelss High Schools) and U Arealoser in the north (Pretentious and Bodacious Elementaries, Stuffedshirt Junior High, and Miles and Morons Elementaries). Some of these schools are year round, and the remainder have summer schools, so students would have plenty of chances to experience administrative realities. All the classes in this phase of instruction would be termed "lab classes" and so credited by the universities. Academy students would continue to live in the dorm and receive comparable salaries. The purpose of this phase of the process would be to transition from theory to practise.
During late August, the actual placement of the Academy group would begin. Schools that anticipated vacancies would have acess to all the pupil records, but in order to "hire" an Academy student, the school would have to provide a "Mentor Administrator," who'd agree to work with the student. This "mentoring" program idea has worked well for teachers in Los Angeles (1986) and advocated by such critics of the schools as Ivan Illich (1970) as a better means of educating adults. Unselected Academy students would be assigned to a regional pool to cover emergencies and, if not placed within a year, returned to regular classroom instruction, richer by a couple of rungs on the salary scale.
Selected and unselected students would participate in a two-part final stage to their development. First, they'd work with their "mentor administrator" learning to perform their duties. No actual written work would be required of the student, but the mentor would have to submit a lengthy document showing his or her efforts to mentor as well as evaluating the academy student. Meanwhile, students would attend weekly regional workshops taught by seasoned District administrators. Both the work with the mentor and the weekly meetings would be credited, at no cost, by the universities in return for the District having helped them survive their summer financial slump by filling three vacant dorms. The purpose of this phase of instruction would be to adjust the students to actually doing their own jobs.
The program would end after students took an exit exam, the State of Chaos Basic, which would qualify them for their license along with getting a satisfactory evaluations from their mentor.
All the graduating students would attend a gala reception in April at which they'd be introduced to the next year's Academy class.
Illich, Ivan. Reschooling Society. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.
Los Angeles Unified School District. Publications Division, 1986, within-district documents explaining the Teacher Training Program, 1986.
Morris, Van Cleve and Pai, Young. Philosophy and the American School. New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1976, pp. 14-16.Links to other sites on the Web: Back to the Academic Page