Responsibility Allocated Across the Education Chain
As I’ve articulated in the past, education systems ought to have a structure of responsibility — and accountability — that begins in the classroom with comprehensive teacher evaluations performed by administrators with responsibility for broader performance measures answering to the superintendent, who must answer for the performance of the entire district. In a recent letter to the editor Tom Maguire, of North Kingstown, gives an example of the sort of thing I’m talking about:
The late John Hayes, a principal for many years in Johnston and Cranston, was the only administrator to get it right.
Seldom could he be found in his office, because his love for teaching and his awareness of his teachers’ daily challenges led him back to the classroom. He saw his role as a resource for teachers. Further, as I learned from him in my first year, to properly assess a teacher’s work, the evaluator must assume responsibility for correcting and improving any shortcomings. Surely, this is far more daunting than calling attention to chalkboard displays, teacher attire or room temperature.
My understanding is that, for such behavior to become an expected norm, intrinsic to the profession, forces higher up the chain of command have to relinquish control and school committees have to reassert management rights in union contracts. Administrators would also need tools to correct and reward those below them. Unfortunately, the concept seems anathema to public education that individual effort and achievement should be an enumerated component of the professionals’ jobs.