K-5 principal drives improvement

From Christie McMahon, Glen Alpine Elementary School, Burke County, NC

When my new administrator came to our school she had a vision for what she thought our school could be. The staff and students were satisfied but not pushed to achieve new levels of achievement. She showed imagination, courage, and strong character in order to create a better environment for everyone within our school.

First, she demonstrated imagination. She imagined a school full of technology where students would have daily technological interaction to fuel their learning.

She demonstrated courage and strong character when others told her there wasn’t any money to make the changes and purchase the necessary equipment.  She even encountered resistance from staff members.  She persevered through every obstacle to achieve her vision. Her courage and character drew others into her mission.

She has been at our school for three years. There is a Smart Board in every classroom. There are two fully staffed computer labs.  We have document cameras, digital cameras, laptops, etc., for the students to use in the classrooms.

The school climate has also improved under her administration. Her example of strong character, courage, and imagination have infiltrated all of the staff members at our school and helped to make it a better place to be.


Secretary Duncan’s spin

From the Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul):

The number of elementary schools nationwide offering classes in visual arts, drama and dance has declined in the past decade, according to a recent report from the Department of Education. Some cite budget cuts and a greater focus on reading and math for the reductions of such courses.

Political Spin

(next sentence –>) Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, however, that the data show arts classes still are common in elementary schools, and there has been no reported decline of arts education in middle and high schools.

Cut the Crap

Drinking fountains, cafeterias, and media centers are still common in American elementary schools.  If we were a third world country, that would be comforting, too.

Secretary Duncan masked the unpleasant message and gave the administration’s spin. But “spin” is not without consequences, when it demonstrates the vices of our uneducated nature. Duncan’s statement missed the point of the report (ignorance and intellectual incompetence). It failed to admit that our test-score obsession hurts students (weakness and fear of truth).  And it reminded us that we are not a third world country (pride in America).

Duncan’s statement illustrates that the relationship between “educated” and democracy works in one direction.  Educated people are needed to make democracy work, but democratic governance does not necessarily produce “educated” Secretaries of Education.

But Secretary Duncan is safe in his job. Americans either believe there is no definition of the educated person or that it means getting high test scores. Mostly, though, we ignore the question of what it means to be educated as we set education policy. I love irony.