Public Schools Lack a Just System of
Checks & Balances
In 2006 former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg and former Chancellor of The New York Department of Education (aka Board of Education) Joel Klein announced the implementation of an “Empowerment” program in our public schools, where principals are empowered to “run their schools the way they see fit”. Upper management completely “washed their hands” from intervening and dealing with the issues that precipitate within the schools. The consensus held that if anything were to go wrong in a particular school, the principal of that school will be held solely responsible. On the other hand, principals are given monetary rewards for “achievements” in their schools, indicated by test scores.
There are two monumental problems with this empowerment program:
(1) Said allocation of power is, and was, never properly supervised nor tamed from potential abuses. This unfortunately paved the way to a culture where administrators today incessantly engage in blatant harassment, intimidation, and smear campaigns against anyone who raises questions and challenges their unethical and immoral business practices and dare to advocate against the abridgment of the basic constitutional rights of teachers, students, and parents.
(2) Administrators are not, and have not been, properly held accountable for this conduct unbecoming of a leader to many children and to what is supposed to be safe and nurturing learning environments. Instead, administrators have been openly rewarded and conditioned to continue their reign of abuse.
Today, with the new Honorable Mayor Bill de Blasio and the new Honorable Public School Chancellor Carmen Fariña, there is a push to return to the “old-school” way of doing things where upper management (District Superintendants) will be “re-introduced” into the power scene with the hope that they will properly supervise principals and with the hope of better identifying who should be held accountable for what problems.
The setback with this current approach is that we have “been there & done that” and moved away from this caliber of power distribution because conditions were deplorable.
In the mean time, we continue to neglect to incorporate into this distribution of power one of the most essential and fundamental assets to the Department of Education (Board of Education); The Empowerment of Educators.
Such empowerment of educators need not consist of allowing teachers to “run their schools the way they see fit”. This would be irresponsible.
Such empowerment of educators can be actualized by hiring, training, and supporting administrators well versed in content areas, planning, conflict resolution, and people skills so that they can provide some level of intellectual stimulation, support, and inspiration to their subordinates.
Such empowerment of educators can be actualized by hiring, training, and supporting administrators to genuinely place the interest of children and the process of teaching before any personal and/or social political agendas.
Such empowerment of educators can be actualized by hiring, training, and supporting administrators to reframe from blindly following and enforcing rules that make no sense, are not in the best interest of the children and that are dictated by higher administrators that only know our students, parents, and teachers as mere numbers on a page.
Such empowerment of educators can be actualized by hiring, training, and supporting administrators to be advocates against the infringement of the basic human rights of the people which they once took an oath to serve in good faith.
Such empowerment of educators can be actualized by creating strong laws, policies and procedures that will protect educators from any form of retaliation for engaging in good faith advocacy.
Such empowerment of educators can be actualized by having a strong transparent training and disciplinary system that holds all levels of administrators accountable for abuse of power and deceptive malicious practices design to muzzle, harass, and get rid of well intentioned educators that advocate.
Such empowerment of educators can be actualized by making teachers a crucial part of the decision making process that goes into creating policies and procedures for the public schools.
Such empowerment of educators can be actualized by Creating and enforcing a strong and transparent democratic system of “Checks & Balances”, similar to our three-branch-government. Instead of having the three current pseudo-branches, (namely, 1- The Governor/State Department of Education, 2- The Chancellor/Department of Education/Board of Education, and 3- The Principals/Administrators/District Superintendents), whom typically deflect accountability by pretending to be oblivious to what the other pseudo-branch is up to,
We should actually – merge pseudo-branches 2 & 3 into one official branch and honorably and officially appoint the remaining branch of this governing body to the very people in the public school system that are the closest to the needs of our children, Honorable Educators. Thank you.