This Blog was prompted by a Groton caller concerned about current conflict in their child's District. How it is addressed in the following is applicable to any Connecticut School District:
Simply put, "School Climate" are the conditions that allow kids to learn and teachers to teach - conflict arises when the adults in a District differ on what those conditions should be. This is a problem due to the fact that the most noted and respected Education leaders have flip-flopped over the past 20 years in providing guidance, and School Superintendents have flip-flopped followng with them while selling the newest bill of goods to School Committees. For example:
Arguably the foremost followed expert on what constitutes an Effective School ( one in which all children learn), Dr. Lawrence Lezotte, put forth in 1992 that the the 3 most important factors in a school were:
1) A Safe and Orderly Learning Environment.
2)High Expectations of All Students to Maximize Their Learning Potential.
3)Instructional Leadership on the Part of All.
Twenty years later, 2012, Dr. Lezotte now states( after jumping on the Reform Movement Bandwagon and the Corporate money that flows from it) the following to be the most important factors:
1) School Principal as Instructional Leader.
2) Clearly Stated and Focused Mission Folowed By All.
3) A Safe and Positive Environment.
Now, Folks, compare and contrast the old versus the new. Regarding #1 (1992) versus #3 (2012)- Do you agree that there is a big diference between "Orderly" and "Positive"? Do you agree that if a school IS orderly it stands a better chance of being positive with the reverse not holding true? And why is Safety no longer the top priority factor?
If you are still with me, let's look at #2 in both 1992 and 2012. Why is it that now a wriiten Mission Statement takes priority over kids learning at their maximum potential? Does that Mission Statement exist only as a piece of fluff while the true agenda is "Teach to the Test! High CAPT scores are top priority!"?
Finally, let's look at #1 2012 versus #3 1992 - Holy Cow ! Principals now control all aspects of learning! And they do that from an office? Don't you agree that since learning takes place in the classroom, that teachers might want to give some viable input? And if a Principal is now that omnipotent and infallible then it follows that a Superintendent is now god like in expertise and power?
And that wraps up the history of why School Districts are now debating "school climate". Is there a solution? Yes. If School Committees do what they were elected to do - run our schools - listen to ALL their paid employees for input - but most of all listen to the voting Public - Education would get back on track. If this were done, I would predict that for the 2013 School Year priority factors would be:
1)Safe and Orderly Learning Environment to Achieve a Positive School Climate.
2)All Children Taught in a Manner that Maximizes Their Learning Potential.
3)All District Employees Working Collaboratively and Respectfully to Graduate Students Who Are Good Citizens, Culturally Literate, and Holding a Work Ethic That Will Enable Them to Support Themselves in Their Adult Lives.
I may not have Dr. Lezotte's credentials and following in the hierarchy of Education leaders, but I predict that which I have put out there meets the approval and agreement of the public majority. What do YOU think? Whatever it is, tell your local School Committee. It is really YOU who runs our schools.