Friday, September 9, 2011

On the Messenger, and the Message

Passion for an issue, passion of the kind I feel for school change, is a handicap for me; a mental disorder that operates only when I'm in a room with other people. I'm really fine when sitting here blogging or researching or exchanging email; it's contact with humans that does the damage. I'm not a politician. I've said it before. Politicians always do what's right for their cause; kissing hands and shaking babies no matter what their parents believe in. Put me in a room of people and watch me implode.

Too much self-pity? OK. I know I do good work; I just have a hard time checking my ego at the door. I know I bring good information and insight to our district. I also know I get very impatient when people of different perspectives bring ideas that don't align with the conclusions I've come to. A colleague has told me that when talking about the charter school, I am "self-righteous." I would add, uncompromising.

The problem is with the messenger, not the message. I don't believe that my basic position on the proposed Rural Aspirations charter school is wrong.

While the charter might be a good cause worthy of support, it will create an administrative and financial burden that will hinder our efforts to change education for the whole district. That is the most critical objection.

If there is a way to create a model, or pilot, that doesn't damage what we're working toward for the whole district, I'd be much more open to it. I'd rather see pilot classrooms in existing schools -- some model that isn't removed from the mother ship, thereby making it seem more realistic and replicable within the district's structure.

Charters are a bad solution to a sticky problem. They are still subject to state standardized testing; in fact, the very life of a charter depends on those test scores. District schools are subject to those tests as well; when they don't do well, they go through a punitive process. Charters that don't do well simply cease to exist. You cannot say that it won't have an impact on how the education in the charter is done. You would, more or less, have to be a magician.

As I've said before, we need to think globally and locally, and act globally and locally. We need to get imaginative about how to change the culture in public schools so that passions are part of the curriculum despite the imposition of state standardized testing.

So. It's sticky. I'm open to discussion. If it's in person, I might have to have a nurse nearby and meds available. If my head explodes, don't worry. It happens.

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