Saturday, April 26, 2014

The bad business of education

I was recently removed from consideration for a teaching position out of state. This shouldn't be too big a surprise being that all new personnel options get moved from the list until the final candidate is chosen. The part that I had a hard time with was the reason I was eliminated from consideration.

I had made the short list of candidates (about 5) for interview and consideration at a school that I had been in contact with for a few years. Let's say that I have a few connections. I was so excited to get the email letting me know that it was interview time! But when I went to schedule the interview, I learned that I was no longer on the list, because I had too much experience. Huh?

Was I qualified? Most definitely, I made the short list. But without even an interview, I was overlooked simply because of my experience. My personality match, work ethic, references, all of it overlooked, because I've been teaching too long and they couldn't match the years.

As a teacher, I totally get this. Budgets are tight everywhere in the ED world. It was fortunate to even find a school to have a math opening.. 3 math openings. But as a man with a business degree and 4 children of my own, this decision just doesn't make any sense.

It's sad that we look at schools as a place to trim budgets forcing schools to operate at limited personnel levels with new teachers that are frequently thrown to the wolves. At no point, was the question about what was best for the students. You know... the reason we have schools. It was never about the candidate that would have the best impact on the school and the department. It didn't become a question of who could come in and bring a spark of energy and creativity that could make the building that much better for the students. Or maybe it did, but at the pay range that suited them best.

I know this type of stuff happens in the world of business. But typically not to a 36 year old; some one in the prime of productivity and experience. Maybe to someone in his 50s... 60s that has reached the top, and was cut due to greed, mergers, or both.

But for schools, where the "business" is educating kids, the best fit should always come first. It shouldn't always come down to money. Would it have sucked to have heard, "Well Ken, we just don't think you're the best fit for our school right now." Sure it would have! But, at least the decision would have been about the school and the kids. At least I would have had a chance to interview and meet the people I would have been working with. Instead, I'm sitting back and contemplating the state of education.

I've realized that one of the main problems with education is that we continue to run it with a bad business plan. We greedily funnel the money to the top, and neglect the overall product. The best business minds in our country can be found at their offices mingling with employees, nurturing them to help create the best product and service for their clients. The decisions made are always about what is best for the customer, and not strictly about the bottom line. There is trust in the employees to do their jobs, and to maintain that trust there is mutual respect from the top all the way down. But that's just not the case in education. The news is hardly about what is best for students. We are constantly told we are not cutting it. Decisions are made at a larger level that fall to the shoulders of the workers. The best of us meet all challenges head on, and work to have a voice for change. The majority fester in frustration, anxiety, and fear. The majority that represents our work force in the media, and in political discussions. How do you think their classrooms are for students if there is the constant sound of disgust coming from outside voices?

At the rate things are going, I don't see a change happening any time soon. Quality education leadership is hard to come by, and those that are great find their own voices limited in the political arena. To their credit, they're out there, and they're trying. It's just hard to move forward when those in charge are fearful of you.

It also appears as though I'll be teaching in this district for quite a bit longer. At least, I know that what I'm doing in my classroom is student centered, and supported by my students, their parents, and my principal. It's not like our boss (the "super") is checking in on us anyways... I wonder how his paid Admin leave is going....? I'm sure a post about that would get me in trouble... darn.