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Category Archives: A New Beginning

The start of a new blog for educational issues.

As I write this, I am anticipating a new school year beginning in about two weeks. I get excited about getting back to work and seeing all the kids and staff, but something that always is in the back of my mind is my family. I have a daughter who will be starting 1st grade, a son who will be entering preschool, and a wife who will also be going back to her classroom as a mild/moderate SPED teacher. I am sure that a number of educators go through this, but sometimes I think that so much time is spent educating/parenting other people’s kids, that my own kids get the scraps that are left over. I went through the same thing with my parents who were both educators. I understood very early on that they both loved me and would do everything for me, but I think that takes a certain kind of personality. What happens if you don’t have that?

My wife and kids are everything to me. There aren’t enough words to describe my love for them. I do realize that my job consumes me sometimes and it is a struggle to find balance. As an administrator it is necessary to look at things objectively and keep things in perspective. Does anyone have a solution on how to do this when other things in your life our out of balance?

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USA Today posted an article about Military-backed Public Schools and the protesting that is going along with them. Across the country, the branches of the military are partnering with schools to offer ROTC opportunities to students who lack discipline, structure, and long-term goals. Bill McHenry, who runs the Junior ROTC program for the Marines states, “Many kids in our country don’t get a fair shake. Many kids live in war zones. Many kids who are bright and have so much potential and so much to offer, all they need to be given is a chance,” McHenry said. “If you look at stats, what we’re doing now isn’t working.”

According to the article, “The academy would be much like a typical high school, except students would wear ROTC uniforms and start each day with a military formation and inspection. Besides Spanish club and debate team, students can sign up for military drill team and color guard. The school’s principal likely will be a retired Marine.” Critics of this state that the military is using public schools as breeding grounds for the proliferation of our military, while proponents state that it is an avenue that students can pursue that is normally not available.

I say why not? Schools all over the country are starting academies that allow students to earn college credit and workforce experience  to prepare them for life after high school. Why shouldn’t the military be an option as well. To deny students opportunities because their are folks who disagree with the ideology is ludicrous.  I disagree with corporations trying to take over schools and run them like a business, but I am not going to begrudge students an opportunity to learn about business and finance. When I read this article, I didn’t think about how I disgree with the war in Iraq, but rather, I thought about a great opportunity for students to explore a possible career interest that will allow them to travel the world. I thought about the movie A Few Good Men in the memorable courtroom scene when Jack Nicholson tells Tom Cruise, “That although my existence may disgust you, you need me on that wall.” You don’t have to like the military, but they are a needed entity for our country and to deny students an opportunity to explore the armed services is doing our country more harm than good.

I want to change the viewpoint of what a school administrator is. Pop culture has a funny way of distorting education and making it into a movie that confines teaching to a set of bad or misguided kids being saved by one particular teacher with noble intentions. Somewhere along the way, both the kids and the teacher learn something about one another and in the end, everyone is hugging one another and the film is the feelgood movie of the year. The reality is that it takes a village to raise a child and it takes multiple teachers to shape the lives of a student. Unfortunately for me, very few administrators get leading roles in films. When they do get a cameo, they typically give principals a bad name. Case in point, Richard Vernon, the principal from the 80s cult classic The Breakfast Club. Here you have a guy who went out of his way to torture high school kids because he wanted to be on a power trip. To be honest, what the kids did to get in that Saturday School is pretty minor compared to the things I see in my office on a daily basis, but nonetheless, it is another classic example of how the media prepares kids to question authority and to make out school principals as idiots wearing leisure suits they ripped off from Barry Manilow.

On the flip side, you have Joe Clark from the movie Lean on Me. He provides the authority figure that a principal needs to be, but he lacks compassion for his staff which makes education possible. He is a likeable character, but the entire movie is spent on an us versus them conflict between administration and staff.

Why do I write about this you might ask? The answer lies in the fact that if we are to change education, we need to change the way it is viewed. One of the biggest problems with education is that everyone is an expert because everyone has experience with it because they attended at one time. This can’t be said for a whole lot of other professions. People make judgements about schools based on their own personal experience they had. The problem with this is that after they are out of school, they don’t need to go everyday, so they can be haphazard in their judgements. Real change needs to occur at the building level and not from decisions made on high in Washington.

So I ask you this. What was your high school experience like? How was your high school principal viewed? In your ideal world, what kind of school do you want to send your own child to?

As I attempt to enter the blogging world, I find it difficult to wrap my head around things I should write about. I’ve been reading blogs daily for about three years, but never really made the leap into my own thoughts until now. What caused this metamorphasis? I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I never really see a lot of principals blogging. Sure, I see a few here and there, but nothing mind blowing and certainly none that really get to the issues that I want to read about.

So here is my attempt at starting something that is relevant to me and hopefully will provide insight into a world that a lot of teachers call “the dark side” of education. As a classroom teacher, I was in control of my own little world. I had my students, my lessons, my room, etc. Now as an administrator, I have to look at things holistically and programatically all while trying to strive for continuous improvement. With that being said, the purpose of this blog is not to write about my own personal issues, but rather, issues that face education today and how schools need to get up-to-speed in the 21st century. I don’t think that I will ever be able to completely separate my own feelings or philosophies from the issues that I discuss, but that is the great thing about this blog. I own it, so I can say what I want. I hope all that read this will challenge me as much as I hope to challenge them.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Principals of Education (pun intended). If you ever wanted to know what really goes on in the principals office, here is your chance to see.