Friday, January 12, 2007


According to one of our recently retired teachers who was back at school as a substitute today, we experienced an event that has happened only once before in his 38 year tenure with our district: school was dismissed early because of weather conditions. The weather forecasts have shown a winter storm watch for the last few days, but this morning was clear and only a little cool. By noon the weather had turned and we were getting pelted with sleet mixed with only a bit of snow. The word went out that we would run the buses early. Someone must have know it had been "that kind of week" for me. A shortened day couldn't have come at a better time, especially when my boss stuck his head in at 2:30 and said, "Go home now. The roads are only getting worse."

District politics are getting to me lately. Too often it seems that our central office personnel get too caught up in the "process" of doing things and lose sight of the purpose. I spent three hours in a meeting yesterday afternoon and accomplished what it would have taken me about half an hour to do on my own. It's so frustrating to be sitting in an unproductive meeting knowing that I could be working on the other projects with looming deadlines that are sitting back in my office. I've also had some challenges with my technology order this year. That process has also been consolidated more in the district office, and, as a result, I've lost my ability to work directly with the vendors and installers. My teachers are not happy with how long it has taken to get their equipment this year or with the way in which it has been installed now that it has arrived. Do they complain to the district? No, they complain to me. It's still my job to fix it (or make sure other people fix it), but I don't control the front end. Frustrating.

On a positive note, I am so fortunate to work with a great team of principals at All-American High. We are working on several exciting things, particularly preparing for a presentation at the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) convention in February and a revamp of our character education program. In contrast to my less than productive meeting yesterday afternoon, I spent yesterday morning with our leadership team making concrete plans for our presentation. This morning in our character ed meeting we had two hours of meaningful conversation about what we wanted our students to "look like" when they graduated. In the end, our answer was much more about wanting to create students who were able to think critically as well as act in an ethical manner than it was about what specific information we wanted them to have learned. Don't get me wrong, that information is important, but the character piece, along with making sure that our students are equipped to be able to acquire, process, and apply new information, is the "big picture" in my mind.

As I do some work this weekend on our presentation and on reviewing our course planning guide for next year before it goes to the printer, I'll be thinking more about my recent work experiences. I'd love some comments on this post. What, in your opinion, is the main purpose of public education?


Alto2 said...

IMHO, the purpose of public education is to teach children how to think for themselves. Of course, children need to master the basics and excel at reading. Beyond that, they need to understand and appreciate the wide world.

Rambling Mom said...

Well, since you work at All-American high I'll say what I think about high school. I don't know what the purpose of public education is -- I know what I'd LIKE it to be. I'd like public education to be a place where children learn to love learning, and learn to be lifetime learners. In this day and age, we know that the best chance a kid has for a "successful" future is a good (i.e., college) education. Elementary fills the need for the fundamental building blocks (3 Rs), whereas high school can be a place where kids can learn the wonder of discovery and how having new ideas and concepts open is enlightening.

So -- if *MY* kid were at All-American High - I'd say as a parent I'd say that part of your job is not only to help him/her GET to college (i.e., GPA, SAT, etc) but also help him WANT to get to college. NOT because it's the only way to get a good job -- but because learning is not only fundamental -- it's FUN.

Now THERE'S a challenge for the weekend.