Tuesday, July 10, 2007

APS And Where We Go From Here: A View From The Sewer

So, now what happens? And what should happen?

As we all know, Beth Everitt's icky summer culminated in her announcing she's leaving next June. Three months ago, I honestly would not have cared one iota about this. As I've mentioned before, healthy teaching in APS means focusing on "the box" (i.e., one's individual classroom) regardless of the ever-swirling madness that is The District.

Then Beth Everitt and crew got rid of my principal. This ticked me off. Ticked me off enough to start wallowing in The District sewers, and my wallowing just happened to coincide with Beth Everitt's icky summer.

So whereas I would normally just be recharging mental batteries and reading books to gear up for another year of teaching "literature", I find myself still wearing my wallowing hip-waders and somewhat mentally stuck in the metaphorical sewers.

So sure, I'm wondering: now what happens? And what should happen?

I have a few ideas, very few, and I admit that my time spent actually caring what goes on at APS Central hasn't enlightened me on much. But here's one or two things I want in a new APS Superintendent:

  • A leader who can corral his/her administrative staff, and not allow underlings to make/enforce policy while hiding behind the Superintendent
  • Someone savvy in public relations to the point that instead of hiring expensive PR people correcting and spinning what comes out of the Super's mouth, that Super can cleanly and forcefully elucidate just what the heck they are trying to say
  • Will seek and not fear input from school communities, teachers and students in making decisions that affect individual schools
  • Someone willing to take on No Child Left Behind (NCLB), both in fighting its reauthorization (obviously before they officially take the position next Summer) and in pursuing legal challenges to unworkable provisions in any reauthorized legislation
Regarding this last point, I read with interest the comments of U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson on NCLB in this morning's Journal. From that story by Debra Dominguez-Lund:

With the controversial No Child Left Behind Act up for re-authorization this fall, Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., says Congress should review the way English language learners and special education students are tested.
"Twenty percent of special education kids— no matter what the teaching technique— will not be able to learn at grade level," Wilson said Monday. "So we need to look at whether we can assess them with individual education plans."
Wilson met with Albuquerque Public Schools officials to discuss her concerns about the law, including some of the student testing requirements and the way annual yearly progress of schools is measured.
"I wanted to connect with local schools and see what we've learned over the first five years of (the act's) implementation," Wilson said. "I wanted to ask school officials what changes they thought needed to be made to the act and what we can do to continue to make improvements."

Now you know we're living in a bizarro world when Heather Wilson and I agree on something. It's pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime event. But here's Rep. Wilson just asking school districts for ammunition to change/obliterate NCLB. I want APS officials to give Wilson enough ammo to blow up every last smidgen of this accursed, ill-funded federal horror show, but have little faith The District will do an adequate job of illustrating to the Representative the many, many flaws.

The next APS Superintendent needs to be able to fully take advantage of offers like that made by Rep. Wilson, and more. Much more.

For those interested enough to jump into their own hip-waders and muck about the sewers, here's a website outlining state/local attempts to alter/smash NCLB. It is my hope that the next APS Superintendent will tackle the next version of NCLB, whatever that is, using legal action if need be. I would much rather see my school district in court arguing against deeply flawed legislation than, say, having a judicial pie fight with Sam Bregman in the Gil Lovato case.

P.S.: And speaking of lame ducks like Beth Everitt, we happen to have a very lame duck in the White House now. Given that lame duck status and overall Presidential popularity, why should NCLB be a slam dunk for reauthorization, exactly?


Anonymous said...

Amen brother. I want someone who will also reign in the middle management minions who make a teachers life miserable with new and improved paperwork that they have to throw our way once a semester to justify their jobs. Put them all back in the classroom and allow each of us to do what we were trained to do. Teach.
I agree with your other requirements 100%.

Anonymous said...

Check out Cordova and son's matching outfits the last two mornings. They are just so special!


Natalie said...

You know it's bad when you are agreeing with someone whom you are usually diametrically opposed.
Throw in some beef jerky and I'll agree with your ideas, 100%. It'll give me something to chew on other than my upper lip.