Re: DSM: Re: DSM

Rick Stansberger (
Sat, 11 Nov 2000 08:38:11 -0700


>From my viewpoint as a former classroom teacher, one thing you can do is to protect the
teachers and students as much as possible from the evaluation mania that is currently
sweeping the edubiz. Here in New Mexico, schools are now being publicly graded on how
well their kids do on standardized tests, and our local system is trying this rigid,
completely scripted "reading" method where the teacher sets a timer, reads paragraphs, and
is not allowed ot say or do a thing outside the script. It produces good test scores up
to third grade and that's all they're going for. I've heard evidence that it actually
retards progress beyond that level, but they don't care. They want those SCORES. The
Superintendent is running around saying, "We're not teaching TO the test, we're teaching
FOR the test."

Then of course there's the whole personal liberty issue with drug dogs, locker searches,
and "zero tolerance" policies. As an administrator you can try to stand between your
faculty and kids and protect them from the worst of it. I never had an administrator who
wasn't willing to hang me out to dry if I stepped out of line. If you can use your
position -- and risk your job -- to protect your people, you're a hero in my book.


Allan Saugstad wrote:

> Hello!
> I am a new contributor and am enjoying the discussions greatly.
> I am a vice-principal in a public elementary school, a pretty ordinary one.
> I completely agree with the sudbury model, and may soon open my own "sudbury" school
> for my own two kids. However, I have, for now, chosen to stay in the public school
> system. When I hear comments about the whole system being cruel and slave-like, of
> course I must agree. I fully understand the arguments and can take that step back to
> see the system for what it is.
> However, public schools are not going to disappear anytime soon. Most parents need and
> want them. That is a fact. Even if most were given a new, more enlightened model, they
> wouldn't accept it. So, how do I live with myself? Even though I am a benevolent
> slave-owner, I keep working to increase the freedom of my students. I help teachers
> see that there is often a better way. Even more often, I help students see that there
> are more choices and opportunities out there in the world than their families ever
> told them about. For many of our students, school is a haven, a place where, for once
> in their life, they will be listened to and not abused. I once heard a speech by a
> principal from Harlem who said that the role of the principal was to "break down the
> barriers that people put on children". This is a strange idea, as the system itself is
> so limiting, but I guess it's a matter of degrees and perspective.
> So let's not abandon the whole public school system. There are too many kids and too
> many families that would be left out in the cold if we just closed them all down.

"Life is too important to be taken seriously."  Oscar Wilde

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