Monday, November 18, 2013

Issues at Montclair

Issues at Montclair High:

1) Morale is as low as I have ever seen it.  Virtually every teacher I speak to, especially the strongest teachers, are planning their exit strategies.  The environment is about compliance and loyalty and there is absolutely no emphasis on strong teaching.
2) Supervision is only to maintain control.  There is no mentoring or positive reinforcement.  Weak teachers are being hired and given good evaluations while great teachers feel threatened and unappreciated.  One English teacher teaching high honor students assigned one book for the entire year.  Teachers in one department, from the best to the worst, were given "satisfactory".
3) There is a total lack of expertise in the oversight of curriculum.  Teachers are writing lesson plans that are never read.  There are some departments that are receiving absolutely no oversight.
4) The administrative team is extremely weak.  
5) The superintendent has no idea of the culture of the community or the needs of the schools.  She is spending money on consultants at an incredible rate.  She hired a scheduling consultant at $5000 a day without ever talking to me about our needs.    They have made decisions that have made scheduling more and more difficult, including 3 small learning communities, 6 world languages, almost every AP course available and common instructional periods, and provided no support in completing the task.  The superintendent refused to pay anyone to assist with scheduling; only capitulating when I told the principal that there would be no way the schedule would be done without assistance. 
6)  We are being treated as a failing school when there are many highly successful things about the school.  We have a great college placement record, there was not a single student who failed to graduate due to failing the HSPA, and we are regularly recognized in areas like math and economics.  The system being put in place puts greater accountability in fairly strong areas yet leaves the weakest areas, like PE, unsupervised and unaccountable.
7) The total top-down management of the principal and superintendent makes for an environment where education is secondary to management and control.  There is a lack of expertise in the most important area of the school, the oversight of teaching and education. 
8) There is no sense of collaboration or common purpose or unified mission.  There is no appreciation or encouragement of creativity or love of learning.  Rather than try to find a way to way to continue to do what we do well despite a system from the State and federal government that is meant to destroy quality public education, we have totally allowed the superintendent to change our educational system to adapt to it.   We have taken a corporate atmosphere that is hostile to teachers, encouraging to charter schools and voucher and allowed it to infect our school system.  We are wasting our most precious asset, our teachers, and allowed our culture as an environment of thoughtfulness and creativity to be damaged.

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