As you may recall, I mentioned a burgeoning interest in education policy. My perspectives are heavily colored by a career and research interests spanning performance excellence, leadership, organizational effectiveness and all things related. Because I don’t have the bandwidth to go into more detail these days, here’s a short blurb about my thoughts.
When I say leadership, I am talking about leaders in the educational arena. I’m also talking about teachers as leaders. More broadly, I’m
hinting browbeating you, my illustrious reader, with the importance of having the SYSTEMS support the acquisition, development and retention of great leaders in education.
What does all this mean? There’s an entire bookload of content I could write on that and this, if I may remind you, is a short post. Mostly, I’d like to steer the public away from scapegoating teachers, unions, charter schools, what have you, as the sole source of our educational ailments. I’d also like to get away from the various proposed silver bullets of technology, charter schools, voucher programs, teacher compensation levels, what have you.
I would like to point out a book that seems to jive beautifully with my interpretations of what the real problems and solutions might be. The book is A Chance to Make History by Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America. It’s been an exciting skim to encounter so much validation for the ideas bubbling in my head. I wish I could more fully read the whole thing, but, alas, someone else has requested this book from the library and I am late returning it already.
In closing, I could quote stuff all day long from this book, but I’ll practice some restraint and stick to this gem shared by Ms. Kopp from a speech she gave to a large group of educators:
…that school systems should essentially do what Teach For America does– aggressively recruit talent, select teachers based on high standards, and invest in their training and development.
One of the people in the audience– a reform-minded leader who had done much to advance the cause of education– was irked. “Why should we have to do this? Accounting firms don’t have to do this. Defense contractors don’t have to do this.”
I suddenly realized the crux of the issue: Too many of our educational leaders don’t understand what high-performing organizations in other sectors do to ensure their success.
Guess what the most successful organizations do? Yeah? That’s right. They adapt their systems to support the acquisition, development and retention of excellent performers and leaders. Ideally, these are requisite systems, or, to use the language from a previous post, inform themselves with concepts like the Q Model.
To avoid leaving you with a case of mental whiplash for the sudden ending of this post without proper closure, I will commit to continuing this line of thought at a later date.