In response to the post, “Yes, I Know the Hours are Long – Part 1 & 2 (11/7/2010),” a LYS Principal writes: I am one of the old time LYS guys, and I am one of the original writers of this fine blog. I know Sean Cain very well. And here is a news flash: Sean and I only agree about 90 percent of the time. We learn from each other, and I propose that it is the 10% we disagree on that drives our learning from each other. After all, if we agreed 100% on everything, there would be no need for me to call Sean, or for Sean to call me, on any issue. As far as long hours, I think we ask teachers to do too much. We want teachers to embrace modern best practices, but still expect them to do everything teachers did in 1970. Teachers don’t have time to be class sponsors. Teachers don’t have time to do fund raisers for prom. Teachers don’t have time to attend gratuitous meetings that could be handled with a memo. Teachers are asked to do too much duty that doesn’t matter. Let’s look at administrators. Principals are expected to be instructional leaders, but they too are asked to do all the things principals did 30 years ago. Principals are supposed to coach teachers, be in classrooms, develop real improvement strategies, and communicate vision. On the other hand, Principals spend literally half of their time monitoring extra-curricular activities, which in my opinion have minimal (almost ZERO) impact on student academic performance. If you care to debate this point, I double dog dare you. Bring your “A” game. Teachers need to focus on high quality delivery (instruction) of an aligned curriculum. Principals need to focus on the high quality delivery (instruction) on an aligned curriculum. At this point our schools are not good enough to focus on anything else. If extra-curricular activities were going to deliver the academic goods promised, they would have already done so. Concerning extra-curricular activities, educators sold school boards, parents, and students a bill of goods that has never delivered what was promised. I estimate the State of Texas spends anywhere from $3 to $10 billion dollars annually to fund extra-curricular activities. With a near $20 billion dollar budget shortfall, I can show you where to cut up to $10 billion that will never be missed. How did we get to the point where the public was funding the entertainment of our children? Yes, children put a strong value on extra-curricular activities. Guess why? I propose it is because ADULTS place high value on extra-curricular activities, hence kids follow what adults model. What if adults valued curricular activities as much as extra-curricular activities? Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying extra-curricular activities have no value. I am saying that toxicity is a matter of dosage. Oxygen in extreme dosages in lethal, as the lack of oxygen is lethal. Extra-curricular activities ceased to be about kids a long time ago and we have reached a dosage that is causing toxicity. Club sports funded by parents would be a far better option and would remove the burden of paying for the entertainment of children from the taxpayers. Remember, Time, Energy, and Effort are finite and zero sum. Once they are gone, they can’t be replenished. As a profession, we have to abandon the old ideas and practices that retard growth. BTW, I have thrown out some ideas here that Sean and I disagree upon, and I assure you he will post them on the blog in due time. No one is censored here. May the best idea win. SC Response It is my hope that the writer of the original posts has stuck with the blog (I can’t distinguish between comments from e-mail subscribers and web-site readers). If so, he or she can see that the purpose of the blog is honest, critical discourse – not blind agreement with each other. You are right, the two of us, who have voluntarily worked with, and in, some of the toughest schools in the country, still disagree on a regular basis. And it doesn’t bother me in the least. In fact, every time we disagree, I’m reminded of our mentors, E. Don Brown and Fred Richardson. Before retirement, they were recognized as two of the best high school principals in the country. About the only thing they agreed on was that schools can be better and that their schools would be better. After that they disagreed as often as they agreed. The day we agree on every thing is the day we have both lost our edge. I too think that we ask teachers to do entirely too much. I believe that we would be better served with a staff of experts, as opposed to a staff of “Jacks of All Trades.” I also understand that the key to building expertise is focus. This understanding drove the development of the Foundation Trinity and Foundation Five. Both remove the extraneous from teachers’ plates and frees them up to become experts in the “how” of instruction. What is interesting is that teachers fight this more that any administrator. Which, I must be honest, I find difficult to understand. I’m hardwired to chase perfection, and though I recognize many aren’t, I don’t know why. I also agree that principal spend too much of their time on the administrivia of campus administration and too little time focused on the most critical function of schools, teaching and learning. We will disagree on the value of extra-curriculars. But I recognize that most of your experience is with athletic programs run wild. I grew up in an athletic program that strengthened the campus academic program. Four of the best five teachers I had in high school were my coaches, including the best, Coach Tommy Wallace, who taught me Algebra II, Linear Algebra, Analytical Geometry, Trigonometry, Elementary Analysis, Calculus, and how to be a teacher. The strength of our diverse experience is that between the two of us we know the significant pro’s and considerable con’s surrounding extra-curriculars and are in a better position to make sure that they add to the campus instead of distracting from it. I’ll close with an extension of our normal challenge, “may the best idea win.” What allows us to engage in the ongoing discussion, without malice, is not our friendship (which is not as old as our professional relationship). It is the fact that we back our ideas with empirical data and experience. When you say, “Here is want I believe, due to A, B and C,” and I respond with, “I’ll give you A, but what about D and E,” what is there to get mad at? Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

Menu