Today’s educational system really astounds me at times. We have teachers unions (but no student unions), tenure, “no tolerance” policies and other aspects of education that really make you wonder if there is any sanity left in this country. Are our schools being administered well? For the record let me state that I have four grandchildren attending elementary schools that far exceed the norm and their parents consider these two suburban schools excellent and I would agree with them. This is not about schools like that. This is about the schools that are obviously out of control.
A few years ago my wife and I were passing through Alabama. We stopped for lunch in a small town. There was a local newspaper lying on the counter with a headline that I believe read “____ High School Failed to Report Murder”. Not being accustomed to murders in high school this received my full attention. The high school administration had not reported an on-campus murder to some higher authority for over six months. I cared nothing about the report but could not help wondering when did we start having murders in high schools. This was apparently a case of one student murdering another student and was not the random shooting and resulting suicide that is unfortunately so common today in some high schools.
Some years ago I went to a large high school football game in a town nearby. I commented to someone familiar with many of the schools in the state that this school seemed different from other schools I visited. There were no fights, no kids with five pounds of metal in their face, no orange hair, no droopy pants, etc. They answered with “This is one of the few schools in the state where the principal is still in charge”. If the principal is not in charge there cannot be any control of the learning process. You can have control with no learning but you cannot have learning without control. Even a tutor has to have some control over a single student. It would appear to an outsider that many school boards do not hire principals and other administration officials with control being high on their list of hiring factors. It makes you wonder what is high on their list of requirements.
Society seems to be failing as our standard of living goes up. As society fails it apparently cares less and less about its children’s future. There seems to be a nationwide attitude of “that’s not my job” when school administration is involved. Control of our schools is our job and we do our job by electing school board officials that understand it is more important to hire school leaders that control the school environment than choosing someone with the politically correct biases, left or right. Being a good teacher and completing some certification requirements does not automatically make a good principal capable of controlling the school environment. Principals who have control ensure that there are consequences to student’s improper actions.
There was a school district nearby with a mix of black, Hispanic and white kids. The district’s board was mainly black and Hispanic. Not only were the schools failing but also there was no control, obvious corruption and very poor oversight of the system. The local media were making regular investigative reports on the schools’ administration. The board hired a black man to run the system and he failed. They hired a Hispanic woman to run the system and she failed. It was not until they changed their requirements, disregarded race and ethnicity and hired a good school administrator with proven results that the system started to change. He happened to be white but that made no difference. I always thought that the board felt so down and defeated that they would have hired a good administrator even if he or she were green or purple.
The abortion battle and the resulting battle over evolution versus intelligent design has also been such a focus in so many of our school board elections that civility and control in our schools has lost its importance. If everyone could learn that our kids are caught in a no win situation on either side of the abortion and race issues, we might be able to save our schools but there is little chance of that happening now. Politics is more important than a child’s future in far too many of our schools.
I mentioned “no tolerance” policies in the opening paragraph. Maybe we need a “no tolerance” policy with school boards, school administration and principals. Either they fix the situation or we show “no tolerance” and send them on their way. It would give new meaning to the phrase.