Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kicked to the curb and swept under the rug

  The saga of Marshalltown’s underperforming Miller Middle School has been concluded with the announced early retirement of Principal Brad Clement. Based on my experiences with my 2 sons at the school, I think Mr. Clement is everything I would want for the principal at the school my children go to. There is one elementary school in town that I wouldn't send my dog to. Clement was classy to the end, not placing any blame and praising the quality of the school staff in a local newpaper interview. “Clement said the option of letting go of half of the staff would be devastating to the school. ‘I personally think that would be something that would be hurtful to students and families because we have a quality staff,’ Clement said.” I would have to think the teachers need to bear a large brunt of the blame for a school underperforming. While the principal is the leader of the school, they don’t have the hiring and firing power of the heads of similarly sized businesses.

  By retiring, Clement takes the heat off the the School Board by allowing them to choose the least disruptive option of replacing the principal and changing the curriculum. I think that the school board was going to make that decision anyway based on the the comments by Supertindent Wade in a
T-R article on the 16th. “Wade said that Miller Principal Brad Clement should not be the fall guy in this situation. He said the district is not saying the testing results are Clement's fault. ‘To hang this on the head of a principal is a tough pill to swallow,’ Wade said." When you are told not to worry, start worrying.

  I must not have been very attentive to this issue because except for Superintendent Wade’s veiled racial references, I’ve missed the discussion and conclusions of the Superintendent, school board, principal, and teachers as to why the school has been placed on the list on underperforming schools to begin with. As the 12-step programs say, you can’t solve the problem until you admit you have one. The school board’s approach has been to pick the mandated ‘correction’ that causes the least disruption, not to determine causes and solutions. Clement is the fall guy who is kicked to the curb and the actual problem is swept under the rug and not solved, but on the positive side we can all feel good that action has been taken.

  I took a college calculus class where the school was being graded on a test the calc students would take at the end of the semester. The instructor was very forthright in letting us know that the class was going to be geared to having us do well on this test, and if we happened to learn a little calculus, so much the better. I expect a similar approach at Miller Middle School.


Mikey P said...

Hank, it's actually quite scary. I tutor Hispanic kids at church in math, and they do not even know their multiplication tables... How can they be taught a test?

I'm glad these are the people I'm competing for jobs with, but sad that this is the competition...


HankAnzis said...

I think they will identify the few basic things that will appear on these tests and teach those to the exclusion of all else. Maybe we can start a cottage industry to rent some kids out to take these tests (it is done in colleges, so it had probably also been thought of at the middle school level).

But don't fear, there will be enough competition when the adults who can't read, write, or add vote for candidates who will provide them a living 'wage' and health care by raising the taxes of the rest of the population.

March 1, 2010 4:36 PM