Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chasing Our Tails!

I have a wonderful, little dog-a Maltese, named Samme. He is small, portable, playful and quite amusing. He’s my best friend. He has a curious habit of chasing his tail and working himself into a dizzying quandary, which is funny to watch. There is a lot to be learned about issues going on in education today, by watching my dog in this frustrating effort.
This morning (8/25/2011) New York State educators were greeted with the news that an Albany County Supreme Court Judge overturned part of the new regulations for the Teacher-Principal Evaluation process, mandated to begin September 1, 2011. The New York State United Teachers successfully waged a battle stating that teachers cannot be deemed ineffective with student achievement scores that are failing or not improving.  

So much for addressing mediocrity in our public schools.

There is some speculation that the presiding judge may not have read the argument correctly- if he read it it, at all-, but nevertheless, the appeals process will check this court’s ruling.

This experience has created many questions and as school leaders are wrestling with what all of this means, we seem to be chasing our own tails, so to speak.

In an excellent leadership blog by Shawn Murphy[1], he poses a similar question for educators to be concerned about. “Are we too busy chasing big?” exemplifies the frustrating act of looking for things that are so exceptional that we miss the everyday achievements that we need to take pride in.

“Are you looking for something big while missing the small that happens around you each day? Does big equate to great?

Thanks to the Federal enticement for funding, which the US government does not have, Race to the Top is forcing our schools to hold student achievement as the priority and this will be completed by testing and assessing the “begeebies” out of kids until school is nothing more than teaching to a test.

So, again, we offer the supposition, “are we chasing our tails”? “Are we chasing ‘big’”? Have we ignored the creative potential of children to learn, and the creative teacher to try any means that works to reach students of differing abilities and needs?

My dog, Samme, eventually catches his tail, and after biting down hard on it, learns a valuable lesson on futility. I predict the USDOE, NYSED, and NYSUT, will learn that lesson down the road!

[1] Murphy, S. (August 22, 2011). Are we too busy chasing big? Retrieved August 22, 2011 at

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