Class Warfare Blog

September 20, 2012

Leftovers from the Chicago Teacher’s Strike

Filed under: Education,Politics,The Unions — Steve Ruis @ 12:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

There was a certain flavor of this strike that the Teachers’ Union wasn’t getting the respect it deserved. There had been labor peace and cooperation for thirty plus years and, yet, there was a constant drumbeat that the core problem of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was the teachers. Then legislation was pushed through the state capital making it much more difficult for teachers to strike. This did not sit well with the union, nor should it have.

This is definitely not the way to do business, either for the Union or the District.

Also, I found it a bit incredulous that the phrase “so Principals can hire the best available teachers” went unexamined. What makes school principals such great judges of teacher horseflesh? Have they been well trained? (I think not.) Have they always hired well? (Where did all of the bad teachers come from then?) Is there any evidence that Principals will make good personnel decisions if given a “free hand?” (I think not. I think that Principals are like teachers: some are really good, some are really bad, and most are journeyman-like competent.)

I have said over and over that the owner of a business has every right to hire and fire whoever he/she wants for whatever reasons (legally, in any case), but principals are not the owners of the business, they are just another category of employee. And teachers do not trust them when it comes to hiring and evaluations because, well, that trust hasn’t been earned.

One of my major contentions is that the management of schools is as big a problem as any part of the whole situation, possibly the biggest part. School principals are supposed to be good at: hiring and firing, personnel evaluation, personnel management, budgeting, curriculum development, and educational program management, and sports program management, and. . . . Principals are supposed to oversee special education, non-English speaker programs, summer sports programs, etc. etc.

Isn’t this a tiny bit much to ask for an employee not paid all that well? Huh?

Educational management is broken and it needs to be fixed, any ideas?

Here’s one. Create a management team in which each school has a manager in charge of each important segment (physical plant, scheduling, personnel, programs, hiring and evaluation, etc.). If these aren’t full time positions, they can teach classes to fill out their responsibilities. This team would meet regularly to coordinate their activities under the supervision of the district’s management team. This is managing functions instead of managing schools. People who want these jobs would need training, and a lot of it, but this is a good thing to do in-house. Extensive management training should be a pre-requisite to getting those positions.

There is only one function that a principal serves that couldn’t be covered by this scheme, that of being “someone to get fired” in the case of real or imagined malfeasance.

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