Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Now What?

The headlines today read 'A Day In Cleveland's Schools'.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer sent 30 reporters, unannounced, into the high schools to get a first hand look at what was really going on. The reporters didn't discover anything that surprised the students, or the staff, who work at the schools . The high schools that have a reputation for working well had strong leadership, and well-behaved students. The schools that are reputed to have problems, had problems. They also had administrators who were not welcoming to the reporters, naturally not wanting any dirty laundry aired in public.

My question is...Now what?

What will the public do with the information gathered by the reporters?
What will district administrators do with it?
Journalists made people aware of what the city schools are like on a typical day, without the dog and pony shows that usually accompany a reporter's visit. They identified some things that were good, and some things that were troubling. Will anyone take this information and look at it with the intention of using it to solve the problems brought to the attention of the public? Or will this article simply serve as fodder for the whiners and complainers?

I've heard from numerous people who say the problems in the Cleveland schools are so immense, so overwhelming, no one can possibly solve them. Rather than throw up our hands in despair because we don't have enough money to solve all the problems, let's start by identifying the things we CAN do that will have a big impact on the learning environment.
I say the problems aren't so big if you tackle them one at a time.
Why don't we start with one common issue the reporters identified today? Kids roaming the halls. Figure out what is needed to keep all the kids in the classrooms in every school, implement a solution, then move on to the next problem.

Isn't this just common sense?


Mr. Thackeray said...

Sounds like common sense to me. Some questions nag at me though: Why aren't these problems being solved? What keeps teachers and staff from engaging in dialogue that leads to solutions? How do we get past the blame game and work together to create safe spaces for our kids? How do we change students' attitudes about learning and get them to trust us? Most important, why aren't we looking at the schools that work and model some of what they do?

Anonymous said...

I thought the PD article was pathetic! In my opinion its only purpose was to arouse ire amidst the very people to whom it should build community. We will NEVER get it right until we truly understand that there is no "us and them" there is only we. As for getting another to trust, one must first convey trust and most importantly respect. I believe it is as simple as that, however there are those who claim to do good, yet what they do is not FOR the good.
If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
In response to Mary Beth, the best way to break down a big problem is in small parts. Why are those kids roamin' the hall?

marybeth said...

The kids wander the halls because they can. You can have rules out the wazoo, but unless they are enforced, they are useless. Kids figure out pretty easily if there are real consequences for not going to class. A teacher can assign a detention for cutting or tardies, the student doesn't show up, two detentions are assigned, still a no show. Will a suspension be enforced...not if we are worried about the school's numbers. It goes on and on...