by Gayle Plato-Besley, M. Ed.
The comments are coming in regarding my last post. It was a post not a report so it didn’t have minutiae of how to change everything and create a perfect school. As to that, I recommend all educators- especially those in political office read everything Dr. William Glasser writes, with at least a read of Quality Schools.
This lowly writer can only offer a few thoughts out of my simple head. I did not elaborate on the
how-to of reform –through the eyes of this educator, I will give it a try:
One Superintendent, one Education Lawyer on retainer, one CPA, One Special Education Coordinator, Administrative Assistants for each administrator if needed; three-five Site Administrators (liaisons representing principals and the schools to superintendents) – one for high school, one for middle school, and one-three for the elementary schools. Any programs of need like Title I, ESL, or Prevention/Wellness can be part time stipends like offered coaches. You cannot tell me a girls volleyball coach doesn’t put in as many hours during a season as an ESL coordinator. Yet, the coach may only get a few thousand extra a year, while a Coordinator holding an admin. certificate gets 45-60K. PLEASE. That makes no sense and following rigid guidelines is not a good defense. We expect teachers to follow laborious guidelines with every IEP or 504 plan, let alone in administering testing. We can find expertise in-house.
Require Site Administrators to travel back and forth to the Central Office, working with the principals, sharing their space. One Principal per school. If that seems odd with the high school housing many more children, I recommend that Central Administrative Offices help out with any unusual and high need concerns. Superintendents do this now with high-end discipline or Special Education complaints. Central Office should be housed in a really nice double-wide modular building on the high school campus. Are you laughing? Look at Cave Creek School Unified School District. For years, the administrative offices were in a trailer. This is consistently one of the best districts now with all schools excelling. That functional space use was really savvy and voters and parents appreciated that the best buildings went to the kids. Voters passed the bonds regularly, but that has changed. But then, so have the Superintendents.
Simplify All Meetings:
Robert’s Rules cannot fix a meeting in free-fall. I can remember waiting to speak at a district meeting, it was 9:30 at night, and I had a hour wait at least. The President of the United States can hold a cabinet meeting in 45 minutes but we can’t decide on drinking fountains at our schools. Staff meetings, teacher trainings, community committees are a huge blob of inefficient drivel. No community meeting should last more than 90 minutes, and no staffing more than 45 minutes. Table it or assign to sub-committee and move on. We believe our time is valuable, so state employees better value the client’s time. Appoint a Robert’s Rules Czar, introduce him and let him take it on. It works.
Hire Experts From Within:
I worked with more than a few teachers who just happened to be experts in another area–law, advertising, statistics, and technology. I read that Steve Wozniak (Co-Founder of Apple) is now a middle school teacher in California. Can you imagine him sitting at a teacher training regarding technology in the classroom, as the high paid advisor from some savvy company tells him how to use graphics for presentations? I love it. My principals had no clue what my peers could offer and never asked for their help. Gosh and it would have been really cheap labor too.
Stop Hiring Consultants After Elections:
There is no better statistical sampling of the local voting public than an election. If you get results you don’t like as an administrator, I say, acccept the local decision. Get creative and re-evaluate. Why did the bond fail: the People did not like your plan to use the money. Come up with a new plan and don’t try to figure out why you lost. Would you hire a consultant to see why you won a bond? Never.
Do you have ideas about reform? Add on please—