Friday, January 31, 2014

The buck? What Buck? We can't stop that buck.

I'd first like to say that I'm tired. I've been teaching for 9 years in Fairbanks, and I'm tired. I'm tired of watching our academic leaders sit back and watch things happen to our schools. They have watched state funding plateau for the last 5 years leaving our budgets short. They have allowed the state to dictate the value of our students, schools, teachers, and support staff. We listen to them blame a lack of funding for all of the cuts, and the increased class size. And we sit there and accept it, and I'm tired. I'm tired of feeling this way about my job. I'm tired of allowing our leaders letting us feel this way. Sure they say that they value us, and praise us for all the great work we do, but what actions are they taking to reinforce that?

I'm currently reading a book called "What Great Principals do Differently" by Todd Whitaker. A great book that I recommend you all read and start using as a measure by which you rate all principals and Ed leaders you encounter. One of the main concepts that has stood out for me as lacking in our current academic leaders is highlighted in the following paragraph:

         On-site visits and interviews with teachers and principals revealed some key
         differences between the very effective and less effective principals. One critical
         difference was that effective principals viewed themselves as responsible for all
         aspects of their school. Though these principals regularly involved staff, parents,
         and others in decision making, they believed they were responsible for making
         their school the best it could be. Regardless of whether situations arose within
         the school or as a result of outside factors such as budget cuts or school board
         decisions, the more effective principals saw themselves as the ultimate
         problem solvers.

What this says to me is that we are currently expecting our students to meet the high problem solving standards that are coming from a common core based system than we are of our academic leaders. Instead, we are getting a town hall meeting to show us that we don't have the numbers because of the state which means we have to cut jobs. We have to increase class sizes. We have to hide behind these things and not think outside the box. What does it matter to them? They will keep their jobs. They're salary negotiations will stay out of the public's eye. Where are the creative ideas that are keeping staffing levels? Where is the leadership of our district saying, "sure this is happening and it sucks, but this is how we are going to manage. Here is how we are going to rise above."

So, yeah, I'm tired of expecting more of my students than we do of our administrators. I'm tired of letting my value be dictated by a boss that allows outside influences to negatively perceive the outstanding job I do each day. Time to raise the standards we have for our leaders. Time to see some new ideas on how we ARE going to fund the missing budget amount, or how we ARE going to trim some other things that will keep our school performing for the students. Because after all, it is the kids and their parents that we work for. NOT the state, and it's lacking budget.


  1. There is room for improvement across the board: Administrators, staff, students, parents, and legislators. I think it is shortsighted to pick one from those groups, and make it their problem to fix.
    I’m tired also, but I wont put together a list of the failings from the other groups listed. I would, however, challenge those in the other groups to reflect on their contributions to a positive environment of learning, and I’ll do the same.
    The budget is public. Great ideas on how to make it work are always welcome. To say we need to think outside the box is nice to say. Can you expand on that? What changes do you propose other than other people need to think outside of the box?

    1. Thanks for your comment, and your thoughts! I knew that I'd be called out for some of my own ideas, rightly so! :) In no way am I suggesting that the entire school system doesn't have room for improvement. I know that a strong majority of educators have a lot to change in order to meet and surpass the expectations we face with a changing education system. What I'm trying to say is that the district leaders have the decision making power. They are the leaders that need to empower us all to be better. They are the ones that ARE paid to manage the functioning ability of our schools and school districts. If we continue to try to run business as usual by asking for more and more $$ we are going to continue to produce at the same levels. I'm paid to be the leader and motivator for my students, and I do a great job.I'm constantly changing my teaching to improve the experience for my kids. I try new and innovative things to stay on top of the ever changing expectations I face as a teacher. I'm simply asking for the people that are paid to lead our district and our schools to meet the standards I've placed on myself in my job.

      So, what are my ideas? If the goal is to keep teachers, and to maintain current class sizes, we need to try going to a 4 school week. Only 4 days of running buses. Only 4 days of food service. Take away teacher prep time during those 4 days, and give teachers a full day to lesson plan, collaborate, and grade. Will this be tough for working parents? It will. But if this type of change will get more people talking about educational issues, I feel that it is worth it. This is the type of thinking that needs to be considered and presented.