The Principal is not your Pal: Backstabbing as Pedagogy

Hagen of Tronje

From the Bloomington Herald-Times this morning (1/9/2012) comes this betrayal of learning and education.  I had intended to simply excerpt but it is too valuable as an example of the way the Project Loving Capital Profiteers are erasing what is human one institution at a time.  I’m pretty sure, though, that the public school is our last chance.

The following guest column was written by Stella Turner Royal, assistant principal, and David Dean, principal, at Bloomfield Junior/Senior High School.

Through the years, there have been many changes in education: from the one-room school house and the three Rs to open-concept schools and “new math.” Some of these changes stuck, and others were passing fads. Today, we are on the cusp of something different, something difficult, something necessary.

Educators must use data to drive instruction, and our performance should be measured in part by that data. Student growth data can ensure we are using best practices, providing the best possible instruction and making the future brighter for our kids. Educators enter the profession because we care, we nurture and we develop young people.

There is a lot of emotion involved in teaching. As a result, some teachers often will say, “I know my students. I know what works.” But if the data tells us a method, strategy or lesson is not on target, we need to evaluate the data and do something differently. This can be difficult, because the best teachers show feelings in the classroom and take satisfaction in the emotional rewards of the job.

The good news is that we, as educators, have so much information available to help us. We can use formal and informal assessment results, test scores and grades in previous courses to see what we are doing well and where we can improve. This evidence is not something to put in the back of a drawer like a cold CSI case. We must use it to offer our students better lessons.

This is a difficult change, but in the 21st century, success depends on the smart use of data to drive instruction. Businesses, manufacturers, designers, entrepreneurs and sales people use it — and teachers should not be the exception.

We wrap ourselves in the politics, lingo and arguments, but we have to be willing to go beyond the semantics and sacrifice our comfort — what we know and trust — and push ourselves to push our students

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. Our school is a member of the state’s evaluation pilot this year, and we are using the state’s model teacher evaluation — called RISE. Teachers at our school are struggling, working, testing and arguing. But, we are also leading, growing and driving student learning. Together, the faculty and administration of the Bloomfield School District have agreed to put our practice to the test, to push ourselves to new limits and to guarantee we will be side-by-side with our students, growing, working and trying our best so that they may be the best.

Scary? You bet. Necessary? No doubt — but our students are worth it.

There you have, finally, a local commitment to treating your kids and teachers and schools like an Apple factory in China. Congratulate these two embarrassing middle managers, Stella Royal and David Dean, for opening up the door to the realities facing the community here. A community which has just been challenged to stop the juggernaut of corporate ideology. A petition should be started this morning to remove David Dean and Stella Royal from their positions immediately. Surely they can find work as a sales manager somewhere.  In fact, why don’t you email them and tell them how you feel about turning your kids into customers or the Education market and your teachers into sales-people.  Here’s their admin page and here is the contact form where you can let them know how terrible they are.

What in the above column speaks to how students learn? What in the above column speaks to the quality of life inside a school? What in the above column speaks to the nature of growing up? What in the above column speaks to the development of a child’s mind and body?

Nothing, of course. This column is an attempt to persuade you that treating your child like a widget is the “right” (and I stress that word) way to teach.  In fact, the column expressly denigrates the teacher as an “evaluator” by mocking the emotional aspect of teaching and implying teachers cannot make proper assessments of students’ learning without testing data.  I hope their teachers read this column as well and respond appropriately.  All teachers at Bloomfield should go together to the next School Board meeting and register a formal complaint.

Listen, there’s more: “Businesses, manufacturers, designers, entrepreneurs and sales people use it [data collection] — and teachers should not be the exception.”

This is straight out the Business Roundtable Playbook. Dean and Royal are carrying water to the elephants. This is pure Business Roundtable propaganda.  The primary lie of this group is called “Workforce Competitiveness” but as we continue to reduce all aspects of employment to pushing buttons to operate automated technologies it’s hard to imagine how education serves this idea.  Unless of course, creating less educated people (less thoughtful, less critical) is the goal.  Eureka!  I’ve broken the code.  But really the goal is just cracking the “public nut” of education dollars to get to the meat of a juicy market for profiteers.  Thanks, David and Stella!

You can research this disingenuous corporate propaganda via the excellent Susan Ohanian website.  The Indiana Department of Education is wholly committed to propagating this ideology.  It is by co-opting “educators” like Dean and Royal, by “turning” them to their purposes, that this group quietly invades the school.  How could your principal, you know him, he eats dinner at local restaurants, his kids are friends with yours, he goes to your church…how can that man sell you down the profit river?  He’s just following orders in that banality of evil way.

Ohanian’s book is a must to help you simply SEE all of this as it is so obvious:  Why Is Corporate America is Bashing Our Schools? shows in minute detail the way that business and corporate privatizers have invaded every part of the education discussion and now our local “leadership” (I use that term with all the irony I can muster for the handmaidens who authored this column–or rather copied and pasted from some Daniels/Bennett talking points).

We must use this egregious example to rally against the purveyors of corporate domination and bottom-line ideology.

There is NO pedagogy to argue about here: this is pure business-speak. The ultimate goal is to create a new industry–a new market–a new economic indicator. Education, replacing what American “makes”, is the next growth industry (in lock step with “data collection” as an industry). Teachers will indeed become “sales managers” whose only role will be to sell the latest education product to their customers in the classroom and their daily reports had better be good!

Even though it is ubiquitous I am always shocked when I read this kind of agitprop, especially from those pledged to serve the school and the children, NOT business masters.

These two principals are an embarrassment.  Show them the door, Bloomfield.

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  1. focus January 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    likely these people do not even comprehend the meaning of pedagogy.
    As you so clearly state: children are not widgets. Classrooms are dynamic centers, not static factories. Children learn in different ways and teachers teach in different ways to bring those important lessons to life. This is basically the equivalent of telling teachers that their own knowledge, drive and initiative is flawed and useless.
    There are good and bad teachers. But not one of the teachers that I consider the greaters influences on my life were teachers who did a rote job–they were innovators, they reached beyond the desk into our lives and sparked our thirst for knowledge. And that is why I am grateful and thankful to this day for their efforts.

  2. Eric M. Sargent April 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I returned to this article today (4/18) because of a conversation I had over the weekend with a friend of mine; a public school teacher in the St. Louis area. He’s in a smaller mid-town district and states “administrators are in the state capital right now fighting for consistency in standards and lobbying to reduce tenure for teachers who do not make the cut aka… have students meet the demand of improved test scores.” You guessed it, more bottom-line chopping! Let’s regulate education, make it a business with flow charts and ledgers just so we can promote “sameness” amongst the masses. Focus – you said it best (also discussed in an article that the B-Town Errant published) when you said: “classrooms are dynamic centers, not static factories.”

  3. Douglas Storm April 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    from the btown herald times:

    ELLETTSVILLE — After months of discussion, Richland-Bean Blossom school board members decided to eliminate 25 positions Monday in order to close a projected $800,000 deficit in the 2012 budget.

    “This has been a real stressful time for all of us,” said Jimmie Durnil, board vice president. “I’m approaching 12 years on the board, and this is probably the most nerve-racking and upsetting time for me.”

    The entire first budget cuts proposal — the one Superintendent Steve Kain and board members had previously agreed upon — was approved, as were most of the “alternate” cuts, which board member Dana Kerr had opposed.

    R-BB salaries for this school year: Look by salary, name and position, and compare those salaries to previous years

    Positions that will be eliminated before the start of the 2012-13 school year in August include Linda Welch, receptionist; Holly Walcott, part-time music teacher at Stinesville; Kim Liford, instructional assistant who has resigned; April Bartlett, librarian at Edgewood Junior High; Lori Sorrells and Terry Nafztger, both in-school suspension assistants; Terry Quigley, industrial tech at Edgewood High School; Ruth Loeper, library assistant; Janine Leanagh, assistant secretary/accompanist; Robert Boltinghouse, special education, who has resigned; Sam Jones, instructional assistant; and Melissa Gillenwater, health aide.

    The board also approved not replacing retirees Scott Holman, industrial tech; Trudy Thompson, keyboarding; Judy Mathias, business; Larry Sparks, physical education; and Judy Briscoe, family and consumer science.

    Retirees Gail Butcher, fifth grade; Brenda Snelling, social studies; and art teachers Cynthia Marshall and Brenda Wampler will be replaced.

    Music teacher Amy Phillips, per her request, will also move to a part-time position at Stinesville Elementary.

    The board voted 5-0 on those cuts.

    When it came to the alternate budget, the board voted 4-1 — Kerr was the opposing vote — to cut Katie Mathers, kindergarten; Melissa Miller, first/second grade, who has resigned; and Lisa Krebbs, ECA treasurer.

    Jennifer Thacker, a health aide, will keep her job.

    The board also voted 4-1, Kerr dissenting, to not replace retirees Gayla Klingelhoffer, second grade; Judy Morran, fifth grade; and Kathy Simmonds, third/fourth grade.

    Sarah Thompson, physical education, will also move from three days a week to two.

    Per the budget cuts proposal, the board also approved using $485,000 from the corporation’s rainy day fund to pay for three months of insurance premiums, and continuing to offer, but no longer paying for, health insurance for school board members.

    Kerr’s earlier proposal to use $47,120 of food service funds to pay for part of custodians’ salaries to cover the time they serve in the lunch room was voted down, 5-0.

    The approved budget cuts will allow the board to save $878,715.

    Prior to discussing the cuts, Kerr, who had presented his own proposal at a previous work session, presented a computerized slide show explaining his proposal, which he said revolved around keeping student/teacher ratios low at the elementary level.

    Kerr’s proposal included replacing retiring teachers at the elementary level. “I am not trying to add teachers. I’m just trying not to lose teachers,” Kerr said.

    Following the cuts, Kerr expressed his disappointment in the board’s decision but said he is ready to move on.

    “I believe everybody knows my feelings,” he said. “I do believe a disservice was done to our elementary students tonight. Hopefully, we can move forward to make the situation that we’re in now the best that we can.”

    Each of the Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corp. board members also expressed how hard it was for them to eliminate positions and said they hope to move forward as a board and a community.

    “This is not easy to do,” said board member Debra Walcott. “It’s confusing at times; it is not easy stuff. We all tried very hard to listen to what everyone had to say. . Unfortunately, we do have to make cuts, and we can’t please everyone. But I think it’s going to be OK.”

    1. Eric M. Sargent April 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

      I would further like to see this districts technology costs for 2012-13 school year. I’ll bet they surpass last years.

      1. Douglas Storm April 19, 2012 at 10:01 am

        like any business under a capital idea the school is being subject to downsizing and outsourcing. What is TFA but “peace corps” teaching? What is a virtual academy but an offshore call center?

        personnel is not “people” or community responsibility anymore–it’s “cost.”


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