Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who REALLY Affects Student Achievement

Ok, so we've pointed out...a couple of times...the absurdity of the little mantra, "How Does This Affect Student Achievement?" that appears on the backside of school board members' nameplates. But we don't want to trivialize the issue, because while it may artificially elevate a school board member's sense of relevance in the grand scheme, it is a valid question. It's just not posited appropriately.
Just look at the hierarchy. How on earth can the board believe that they are really affecting student achievement?

Yes, the school board hires (once in a blue moon) the CEO (district administrator) of the business. And yes, the board approves the budget (although it is generated by district administration and most board members do NOT really look that deeply at it). And we KNOW the board creates policy (although once written said policies are frequently abandoned).
But WHO is actually doing the educating? Who puts the "connect" in "connectedness"? Is the board {No}? Culver{No}, district administrators {No}, the principals{No, not really}. Buried deep down in the chain are the ones in the trenches...the teachers and support staff. These are the people that are making a difference....every day. These are the people that can usually be inevitably identified as the very linchpin that keeps our kids from slipping off the axle.

It's election season. This is typically a time when school board candidates are out gladhanding, kissing babies, and shouting out "The children must come first". Of course this year, you likely will hear not a peep. Jeff Probst has made a special visit back from some remote area of the world untouched by civilization, to declare that all three incumbent school board members (Whalen, Shimek, and Slane....hey, does that sound like a law office for ambulance chasers, or what? ) are "safe" at tribal council. They run unopposed.

At the risk of starting a "chicken before the egg" argument, let's not any of us forget that it REALLY needs to be all about the teachers and support staff that work directly with the students to nurture their minds.

Oh...and since the school board now all regularly tune in to this channel, we can fully anticipate some statements at the board table Monday night designed to tell you to not believe what you read on some nasty blog site... that they really DO appreciate the teachers and support staff. Do they? We don't think that THEY get to be the judge of that. Sure, they hand out "Results Plus" awards on occasion....and that's nice and all. And maybe a $25 plant when a loved one passes on has meaning for a few days. But there are other, better ways to recognize and reward the ones that make or break the business of the school district.

Things that make you go, "Hmmmmm".