Weekend Reading 9/03/2016

Weekend Reading: An Education News Service from The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association

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New Section: The Principal, by Michael Fullan
Each week, Weekend Reading will include an excerpt from the book, The Principal, by Michael Fullan.  Fullan is a worldwide expert in whole-system change in education. He has partnered with governments around the globe to successfully improve their school systems. His work is required reading in many graduate programs in educational leadership.  The excerpt below is about capacity building,which involves developing and improving teacher skills through thoughtful and consistent professional development, as well improving the technical competencies of groups of educators through professional learning communities that work together purposefully and relentlessly.

Excerpt from The Principal: Capacity Building vs. Accountability

“It is understandable (but wrong) to conclude that because the education system often lacks focus, we must tighten it with strong direct accountability. Human systems are not that straightforward…. results will not be obtained on any scale because local capacity cannot be assumed…. In Ontario, for example, we have accomplished widespread improvement in literacy and high school graduation across the entire public school system of forty-nine hundred schools and seventy-two districts. We have no overt accountability beyond high expectations, investing in capacity building, increasing transparency of results and practice, and maintaining a relentless focus on progress. Accountability in the end works because people become increasingly committed to results, to their peers, and to the system as a whole….

“Think of the following analogy: Capacity building is to accountability what finance is to accounting. Finance is about how people organize and invest their assets; if you have only accounting, you are merely keeping careful records while you go out of business! In the same way, there is more to accountability than measuring results; you need also to develop people’s capacity to achieve the results. Extreme pressure without capacity results in dysfunctional behavior. Tighten the screws of accountability, and people will game the system…. If you are a principal ‘leading’ a school in such a system, the best you can do is to get better at a bad game.”

“Capacity building is to accountability what finance is to accounting. Finance is about how people organize and invest their assets; if you have only accounting, you are merely keeping careful records while you go out of business! In the same way, there is more to accountability than measuring results; you need also to develop people’s capacity to achieve the results.”
Fullan’s quote gets to one of the fundamental problems behind teacher observation systems like CPS’ REACH.  REACH compliance measures make teacher evaluation unnecessarily broad and time-consuming.  Fullan’s work can help us reevaluate the demands of REACH and propose alternative systems that create the right balance between rating and coaching, and between one-on-one evaluations that have limited impact on one teacher at a time, vs. team-based instructional improvement that allows administrators to guide teams and build cultures that significantly improve the practice of multiple teachers at once.  I hope the excerpt from The Principal is as thought provoking for you as it was for me.  Another excerpt from the book will be highlighted next week.  The Principal is also available in bookstores and online.

The President’s Picks: The Top Five Reads of the Week
1. CPAA News – Principal: “After these budget cuts I feel like I’m providing educational hospice.”
This week I carried CPAA’s message to three media programs, discussing the work of principals and assistant principals. Links to two of those programs are below.  The quote above comes from one of our principal colleagues and is one of the many instances in which I attempted to convey their stories to the public.

2. Blaine Principal Resigns in Public Letter to Mayor Emanuel
Although my resignation from CPS was not an act done as CPAA president, I did attempt to use the resignation to highlight some of the issues our members are faced with. When I met with principals and assistant principals last spring and over the summer, some of the concerns they brought up most often were underfunding & waste, REACH, the School Quality Ratings Policy, Aramark/SodexoMAGIC, and micromanagement, among others.  Our ability to impact these issues is highly dependent on our ability to influence policy making bodies like the Illinois State Legislature, Chicago City Council, and the Chicago Board of Education.  These policy making bodies–in turn–are heavily influenced by strong arguments and public opinion.  Accordingly, I used my resignation from CPS as an opportunity to create strong arguments that highlight some of the issues that principals have expressed to me; arguments aimed at influencing the opinions of both policy makers and the public. The response to the letter has been overwhelming. More and more Chicago residents are beginning to understand the challenges faced by CPS educators.  My resignation from CPS–and some of the media coverage it garnered–is below.

Key Reads

Other Reads

3. CPS Budgets and Contract Negotiation Related News

4. New School Year
Dyett Re-Opens

DNA Info Neighborhood Based Back-to-School News

Other Back-to-School News

5. Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces: What are they?

President’s Honorable Mentions
The Assault on Higher Education

Other Spotlighted Reads

Holistic Educational Accountability
From lead paint exposure and access to nutritional food options, to household income and persistent segregation, the causes of low academic attainment reach far beyond schools.  Educators have always been willing to do their part, but the rest of society has been slow to do theirs.  This section covers the non-school factors that impact educational attainment.

Teaching and Learning

Public Safety
Rhymefest Robbery

Policy Accountability Plan

State News
ISBE

Other State News

National Education News & Commentary

International Comparative Education

Charter School/Privatization Watchdog Report

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