Patting Yourself On The Back Can Damage Your Rotator Cup
It took less than 24
hours after the city and UFT announced a tentative teachers’ contract
for Chancellor Joel Klein to crow about his perceived victory.
In a letter to Principals, Klein focused on the powers he
believes he wrested from the arms of the UFT and handed to
Rather than take the
high road, he cannot help himself from carrying out his desire
to prove to Principals that he and no one else is their champion.
Credit for good outcomes should be shared when it is appropriate
to do so. Simply to pat oneself on the back is a sad demonstration
of hubris and potentially damaging to one’s rotator
cuff. What Klein did not do, and what a good leader would
know to do, is to wait until a deal is thoroughly completed
and then, clearly and with specificity, explain the terms
and potential impact of the agreement.
Principals want to understand the ramifications of this new
contract and the impact it might have on their own evaluations.
Yet, Klein is silent about the implications, waiting perhaps
to use the terms of the new contract to publicly hold Principals
to a new standard of accountability without telling them what
that might be.
Maybe some would think
it was nice that the Chancellor sent his braggadocio letter
to Principals. It is hardly nice that he has not committed
himself to a new contract for the very same Principals, Assistant
Principals, Supervisors and Education Administrators. By
the way, in case anyone thinks he doesn’t
want his pound of flesh from our CSA contract, think again!
And in the remote case you believe he doesn’t want even
more authority over school leaders, you really have another
thing coming! Almost 2 1/2 years have passed since the last
contract expired and the Chancellor is crowing about another
union’s contract! What about his commitment to leadership?
I recently had an interesting meeting with some parents, one
of several meetings scheduled. A group of highly educated,
creative and articulate moms spoke with me over coffee, tea
and hot chocolate.
Their children spanned the grades from elementary to high
school and most of them had a variety of choices regarding
their selection of schools.
It was clear that none of them had any idea about how to get
problems resolved, who had the authority to make changes, where
the district office or district superintendent is located,
or what the role of the parent coordinator is. They told me
about calls to the regional office that went unanswered, about
leaving messages and not receiving a callback.
Several said their Principals seemed cautious about making
decisions or responding to questions and often deferred them
to the Local Instructional Superintendents. The LISes, in turn,
told them that they did not have the authority to address their
issues. Several parents had new Principals, and although they
found them to be receptive to questions, they seemed unsure
of their authority. One mom expressed strong feelings for her
Principal, who did what she believed was right and was respected
for taking a position that advocated for children and parents.
Nevertheless, the oft-repeated theme was one of concern: If
these women could not get answers to questions, how could less-sophisticated,
less-educated parents with less time or with poor or no English
skills ever get an answer from the DOE about their concerns,
or feel that they could advocate appropriately for their children?#
Jill Levy is the President of the Council of School Supervisors