Thursday, April 1, 2021

It's Pollen Season

A recent comment on Stan da Man's idling blog characterizes the dumpster fire known as DCSD as an approaching "perfect storm." From the outset let's be clear, this is not a trashing of that individual or the specific comment because the observations and conclusion are and have been shared by generations of parents and teachers in DeKalb, but THAT is part of the real problem. So this is not a perfect storm, a rare occurrence, it is more a routine, regular event like the pine pollen coloring our world yellow. It has been here before. It will be here again. And no one has what it takes to prevent it-cut down all the pine trees. 

Like the weather, and pollen season, folks like to complain about school systems. The same recurring complaints. The super is some kind of ambitious, self-serving creature that doesn't care about the teachers and staff, complaints that could be leveled against Crawford, Green, Watson-Harris and a host of others. It isn't the super and changing the name and face won't make a meaningful difference. That someone [else, it is always someone else] must do something. They say the State, or the Governor must step in and do something even though this has already been tried and failed. This Governor would be no more effective than the last. Then there is the accrediting agency. Why don't they step up and step in and protect the teachers and staff? That's because SACS>AdvancEd>Cognia is a business beholding to the customer so they stand up for the district administration, protecting them from outside influences and they will punish micro-managing boards long before they call a super to task. 

The root cause is in the community, resting in those folks who say things like "stand up for all the stakeholders, especially the students." Just as in that phrasing, the students always come last, as if they are just an afterthought. But they are not an afterthought at all. They are tools. When an eSPLOST comes up school apologists will tout "it is for the students" even as they acknowledge that most of the money will be wasted but there is hope that some funds will make it to the classroom. Despite the blatant waste, this has proven compelling. And parents, no matter how vocal, generally limit their true concerns to their child and their focus hopscotches from school to school as their child, inevitably, moves on. And that inevitability is an intentional, foregone conclusion: students will not be held back; they will not learn; and outside sports they will never be subjected to a meritocracy. That's why colleges and universities have remediation, whether explicit or embedded. 

So this is not a perfect storm. It is not some unlikely confluence of bad circumstances creating an unusual crisis. It is structural. It is systemic. And it is by design. And the catalyst for all this is "for all the stakeholders, especially the students." So long as this remains effective our schools will remain in their current state. Or worse. 

So whenever you hear "for the students," just inhale, exhale and move on.