Saturday, May 26, 2007
posted by Q6 at 9:42 PM
Our School Site Council has long been a rubber-stamp group, although its original purpose was to be the cornerstone of shared decision making on our campus. (Anyone who works at a public high school--especially one in a high-income area--knows that shared decision making is when the administration makes a decision and then shares it with everyone else.) Last week I got a personal education in just why we don't let the SSC make decisions.

I was asked to submit a revised, comprehensive attendance policy for our school. This one would use the full capabilities of the database system, it would address the rising attence problems (we've gone from 96% to 93%, God help us all), and it would reduce the bureaucratic paperwork. What it would also do is put some of the actual classroom management tasks back in the hands of the teachers where it belongs. Some teachers don't have attendance problems in their classes; other have crack systems for keeping track of absences and tardies, but very few actually take action when a student ditches class. Both preventative and reactive measures should exist in the classroom long before anyone gets sent to my office--and if the School Site Council is going to ask me for revisions to the process, I'm damn well gonna put that back in. Underlined.

So the SSC takes my recommendations and they...make some alterations. Long story short, they leave in all the administrative involvement and conveniently delete the teacher-action component. I refused to even attend the following meeting, and I told one member of the group (in private) how pissed I was that the SSC--made up primarily of teachers--saw fit to remove their burden and keep it all in my court. (In a strange twist of I-don't-see-that-very-often, the principal agreed with me wholeheartedly.)

We have students with terminal attendance problems that are still passing classes. The same teachers who pass these students maintain, in other settings, that we're not running a correspondence school. We are, however, and it makes me wonder why we even CARE about the attendance policies at our school. Attendance is a basic facet of classroom management. More and more of our classrooms should reflect that, and more and more of our teachers should get used to it.



At 11:24 AM, Blogger OKP

And what do you recommend the classroom teachers do -- specifically?


At 11:34 AM, Blogger Q6

The two things I can think of (which I included in my rant to the SSC representative) are these: one, quit giving kids who ditch the opportunity to make up the work (thus afecting the grade, and providing motivation to come to class), and two, TALK to these kids about the importance of proper attendance. I don't think you have the same problem that other teachers have, but I know from student input that it sends mixed signals when I go postal about attendance in my office but the teacher hasn't said word one about it. "Mr. So-and-So hasn't said anything to me about it." I've heard this more than once.

In the end, I don't know why anyone cares. We're a basic-aid district, so our finding isn't affected; teachers seem fine to teach these kids in absentia. If that's the case, I wish those above me in the food chain would get out of my face about it.