Dear superintendent

[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

Dear superintendent,

I lost one of my principals in our Principal Blogging Project today. I’m not very happy about it. You see, it’s your fault.

She was a fabulous blogger. She used her blog to share great things
that were happening in her school. She uploaded photos and graphics to
create student and parent interest. She hyperlinked to helpful
resources. She was a master at using her blog to enhance communication
with parents and build school community. Parents and students loved it.
She was even featured in the newspaper for her blogging efforts.

But then you came to the district. Its new superintendent. The
person who is supposed to lead the way. And you shut her down. Why?
Because of a few negative parent comments on a few blog posts.

You had the chance to do the right thing. You had the chance to hear
your principal tell you about the power of this new communication
medium. You had the chance to find out that every major corporation is
blogging and that there are numerous reasons why administrators should blog.
You had the chance to learn about the technology and the fact that
individual commenters could be blocked or that comments could be turned
off altogether. Sure, some interactivity would be disabled. Sure, some
of the power of blogging would be lost. But at least the principal’s
voice could have been preserved.

But you didn’t. Instead you had a knee-jerk reaction and shut her
down. Closed her off. Relegated her to the inefficiencies of a listserv
and a paper newsletter.

The irony is that you say on your district web page that you embrace
change. That you value the input of parents and the local community.
That you always want to do what’s best for kids. How do you reconcile
shutting down your cutting-edge principal’s use of modern communication
tools with your so-called values?

Shame on you. You’re supposed to be modeling effective leadership.
You’re supposed to be facilitating your building-level leaders’ use of
21st century technologies so that teachers and students will be more
likely to use them. You’re supposed to be the penultimate “lifelong
learner” in your organization. As someone who prepares superintendents,
I am not impressed.

Congratulations. You’ve moved your school system one step closer to
the 19th century. I’m sure your parents and community will thank you
for it. May your reign be short.                           

11 Responses to “Dear superintendent”

  1. If this is true, and I suspect that it is…wow. It sounds like the top level educator in that district forgot that continuous, life long learning is essential for making appropriate leadership decisions. Never mind the fact that he should have trusted his principal and, in the words of Stephen Covey, “seek first to understand, then be understood”.

    Too bad this guy will probably never see this post.

  2. Yes, everyone, this is true. Carolyn, I think it goes beyond transparency. Administrators are notably controversy-averse, often to their organization’s detriment.

  3. Hmmmmm…so Scott, mind if I use this post as a discussion starter in workshops on this issue?

    Susan

  4. Susan, of course not. Have a blast; I know you’ll use it well. Everything I do is licensed under Creative Commons. Let me know what folks’ reactions are!

  5. Thanks, Scott. I will definitely let you know how people react to this.

  6. What a shame, I’m sure this happens more than we realize. Maybe not outright banning, but get one upset parent (or even the possibility that one might become upset) and look out. I feel blessed to be in a district with administration that supports and encourages what I do in the district. Though a poor public district, all our staff have laptops, and ipods in every classroom. Because of this we have paperless classes and student and teacher blogs. It’s not the resources, it’s how you use them. Good luck to you Dr. McLeod.

  7. Far out!

    Is this true?… Sorry but I’ve been a bit out of the loop for a while.

    This attitude prevails around the globe though don’t you think. I’ve had people say “You should blog about this or that” with a chuckle and grin but you know the saying…. never a truer word spoken.

    It drives me nuts!

  8. Sigh.

  9. It’s amazing how little people are willing to deal with even the smallest number of negative comments these days. I don’t know where this idea of having an entirely perfect presentation and not offending anyone came to be, but it’s certainly not helping us out any.

  10. I agree with Michael…sigh…

    I hope your superintendent reads this letter at night when he or she has some time to really think about what you are saying, because it holds a powerful message about modeling and leadership.

    I was pointed this way by Dennis Harter of Thinking Allowed (http://dharter.edublogs.org/). He was responding to a recent tech leadership rant I was going on about on my latest post –> http://leadingfromtheheart.wordpress.com/2007/09/25/%e2%80%9cput-technology-where-it-can-be-best-used%e2%80%a6-in-the-classroom%e2%80%9d/.

  11. This transparency piece is a very hard one for schools, isn’t it?

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