Council of School Supervisors & Administrators
It is 14 years since I began working in CSA's Supervisory Support Program as an intervener, but this year, more than any other, has wrought so many changes that it has brought us to a new frontier in how we perform our professional responsibilities.
Many, if not all, of the familiar relationships and procedures within the school system have been turned inside out and upside down. The new Board of Education structure challenges us in many ways, not all of them professionally acceptable to school leaders. District Offices are now Regional Offices. The questions remain to be answered: In what way will this improve the support we receive? Will the new regional offices provide the effective, non-evaluative professional support we so desire?
Up until now, the systemic culture around such support has hardly been idyllic. And now, the new level of what was intended to be "support" may be micromanagement at its best and a punitive bureaucracy at its worst.
The truth is, for CSA members, the type of structure adopted by the system hardly matters as long as it responds to the needs of children and the professionals who guide their education. And that type of support, the type that CSA members yearn for, remains a hope, something that we have yet to receive.
This year is clearly marked as one where union contracts and relationships have been challenged and ignored. The new Department of Education wiped out entire CSA license areas without warning. It turned positions on their heads; some of us were even forced to apply for what appeared to be the jobs we already held, jobs that had simply been renamed. The new DOE also changed the nature of CSA members' responsibilities without disclosing the nature of the new work up front or additional supportive resources. Naturally, this has resulted in many angry professionals.
The new regime at DOE has made unprecedented demands on CSA members' time well beyond contractual obligations. Our members have been summoned to retreats, retrained, seen their schools retooled and been redeployed.
These many changes made without any input from us, secretly and behind closed doors, have resulted in a sense of oppression and exhaustion. It will be years before we know if the present culture of stress and human misery created by these overwhelming changes will actually result in a better education system. I certainly hope so.
While some of these changes are certainly within the right of the mayor and chancellor, a number were made without regard for state law or our contract. CSA has responded with an unprecedented number of legal actions to enforce our contract and the law. At the same time, we seek to resolve many of the issues outside of these formal procedures. We always remain hopeful that the culture and the structure will change for the better as we are hopeful that the avenues of communication will widen and become safe pathways to bridge the current divide between intention and impact.#