“What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate” – Follow-up

Those of you who read me regularly may recall my April 24 post that highlighted some parent complaints about the new elementary school schedule that was proposed by my school district’s elementary principals. That post focused on the leadership issue of stakeholder communication…

Well, over 2 weeks later, the principals’ formal response is out (see below). As I expected they might, they give a number of good explanations for the scheduling changes. Although the memo is dated April 30, today is the day it was sent home by our school.

The communication issue is still very much present, though. At its heart, this is a conversation between three groups – school administrators, teachers, and parents/community members – and it’s being waged via paper letters and flyers, with responses several days or weeks apart. As long as it proceeds in this manner, how can this possibly be a successful, respectful conversation?

And, yes, even more trees gave their lives to the cause…

amesprincipalsletter01

amesprincipalsletter02

7 Responses to ““What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate” – Follow-up”

  1. More time on a task should make you better at that task. I am strongly in favor of teacher collaboration time. They do need to figure out how to use that time wisely.

    I worry that they aren’t so worried about a “flat line” in their test results that they forgot about everything else. “Flat line” is a sound bite that really doesn’t say much. I would be happy if my school flat lined at 100% proficient.

    I hope they found a way to get everything else an appropriate amount of time as well. Did they get all of this time from the so-called extras like Phy Ed, Science, the Arts? Did they consider a longer school day?

    We need to be considering more than just raw in-class time. What does it take to be a well rounded adult that can apply his or her reading and math skills?

    I wonder if they looked at the number of actual school days too.

  2. So what happened to art, music, recess … ?

  3. I am very interested in creating an environment where these three groups c/would discuss things openly in real time. I believe that moderation of a forum or chat room could play a key role in making those conversations beneficial and efficient. The answer to your question is that this not actually a dialgoue. This is a reaction. I think the first rule of having an open conversation is that topics that are not up for discussion should not be brought to the table. I hope that it’s possible, at least in some cases, that this type of collaboration could lead to all parties feeling valued and validated.

  4. The elementary school district I work in, Council Bluffs Community, has a 180 min. literacy block each day along with the 60 minutes for math. We are also trying to create time during the school day so teachers can meet in collaborative, professional learning communities to create standards, assessments, and instruction for students. PLC’s work best when teachers get to collaborate during the standard contract time each day. Expecting them to come early or stay late can kill the initiative.

  5. The kind of scheduling they’re doing sounds silly… but then I’m all the way away in Connecticut.

    The way that they’re arguing the conversation, in papers and pages, is utterly absurd.

  6. I left an awesome comment to your Part 1 post, but then it disappeared. Here’s trying again.

    We have an analogous situation here in Montgomery County, Maryland with a proposed scheduling change at a middle school that hosts a humanities magnet program. The change (assuming it will go through against parent and student opposition) will result in students essentially losing an elective and being forced to choose between music/art and a foreign language (yes, this is a *humanities* magnet.) The parents have have been very organized and used tools such as an online survey. To date, they’ve been blown off.

    I’ve blogged about this extensively-if you want to see stakeholder process and engagement, I’ve got it for you in spades. You can read more at these posts:

    http://themorechild.com/2009/02/23/a-magnet-diminished/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/02/24/the-now-what/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/03/17/ems-parents-unite-to-oppose-schedule-change/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/03/23/eastern-at-the-board-of-ed/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/03/23/slapped-down-weast-endorses-after-school-flex-schedule-proposed/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/03/25/throwing-em-a-bone/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/03/30/eastern-parent-group-issues-statement/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/04/01/and-the-survey-says/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/04/27/eastern-parent-group-still-fighting/
    http://themorechild.com/2009/04/29/the-middle-school-humanities-magnet-see-for-yourself/

  7. This is the sort of peremptory decision that many professional staff–and especially excellent ones–seem prone to.
    It says we know what’s best and we don’t have to listen to what you (i.e. you parents or you citizens or you Board members) think. (Vivid image of tongues sticking out?)
    Yes, it might be right–it certainly seems right–but I can’t help thinking of that old adage about winning the battle and losing the war.
    I hope I’ve got this wrong.

Leave a Reply