Bureaucracy in Schools
The article in the newspaper about GM Corp. initiating cultural change is significant. It tells me that US corporations finally "get it"! The old top-down, heirarchical slow-moving american corporate culture is breaking down and being replaced by a customer-centered culture where plausible risk-taking is embraced. This is the change we need in order to survive globally. Yet, the American school system seems to lag significantly behind this trend.
I'm part of the school bureaucracy, and here are the areas that frustrate me:
- Due to the bureaucratic rules and laws concocted by non-educators, school administrators and teachers are forced into a CYA (cover your ass) mentality. For example, one mis-step with regard to a student with special needs could result in a giant law suit. This effectively aligns the focus away from what is best for the student.
- The inordinate amount of regulation aimed at public schools creates a "follow the rules" mentality. Risk-taking is frowned upon. When the rules take center-stage, innovation goes out the window.
- In many states, especially Pennsylvania, teacher unions have too much power and political influence. It is nearly impossible for a school district to furlough a teacher for poor classroom performance. The grievance and arbitration process is set up to protect bad teachers. I've seen it first-hand.....arbitrators rarely rule against a teacher, even in extreme cases. As a result, school administrators and teachers spend large amounts of effort negotiating contracts, fighting grievances and dealing with legal issues. The focus is not on students.
More bureaucracy, more regulation, more laws. The only thing not happening is more education. We need to take a subtractive approach to public education. Sometimes, more is just more! After 34 years in education, I get frustrated. Then I see educators who make a difference despite having the cards stacked against them. In this I take hope.
To every educator out there trying to make a difference in the lives of students, keep plugging!
Couldn't have said it better myself. Been thinking alot about the "CYA Mentality" lately, and how it is diluting our education system. ~Brian Wis