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Scott Taylor

Superintendent , Kenilworth Public School District

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Educational leadership

The Battle of Shiloh is considered by American historians as one of the bloodiest wartime fights of the modern era. General Ulysses S. Grant led his troops to Union victory and, as biographer Jean Edward Smith accounts in his highly respected, well researched 2001 book titled "Grant," showed a leadership trait that should be emulated by anyone who strives to win a "battle."

"A general imparts attitude to an army. It is not simply a matter of issuing orders, but infusing spirit and initiative. An inchoate bond develops between a successful commander and the army. His will becomes theirs...The men fought because they knew that Grant expected them to, and they trusted his judgment that they could do so."

The key to the relationship Grant forged with his troops was the success he showed in battle. The general is known to have lost as many battles as he won, but the "wins" he scored in the fighting were significant and game-changing.

Grant's soldiers followed him through thick and thin. I recognize, as an educational leader, that I will have to show successes before I can expect my "troops" to follow my vision. I realize the leaders, teachers, and parents in my schools will not support my work whole-heartedly unless I can prove that their adherence to my plans for student achievement will pay off in the end.

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    Jun 17 2013: Scott, When I was in school in the 40's ... teachers rules with a iron fist .. Principals were the "force" ... and I never heard of anyone going to or even talking with a Superintendent .... PTA was a power .... and my parents still had a fear of my teacher was she had taught them and the sins of the parent rained down on me ... I got swats from the teacher, principal, and really caught it when I got home.

    I bring all of this up as a difference of what we have now. My current picture is that the school has mandates from the federal government, state government, and the locals are left out. Superintendents are busy writing and searching for grants to keep the school afloat, principals are busy reading and complying with federal and local mandates and hoping that no one will sue (that is the national past time). The teachers have had most of their options taken away by the real educational power houses the textbook writers and the test developers. They follow the guides and plans given to them to cover the high stakes testing to follow ... in essence they now teach the test.

    As a superintendent or even a principal, or teacher .. you never see the parents of at risk kids. You see good kids and good parents ... and sometime those who want to burn you in effigy or sue you or their lawyers.

    Your plan is important ... how many parents or members of the community were involved in devising or implementing this plan? Budgets, STEM, high stakes testing, and community apathy are the real issues and the fight at hand.

    I am retired and very active in the school. Most of the time I am alone in my efforts and try to understand the position the administrators are in and work with them. I ask others to come help and they say why ..... what good would it do.

    Superintendents, principals, and teachers are getting a bad rap due to federal, state, and union interference and mandates. The dollar rules in education ... not the learning.

    Bob.
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      Jun 17 2013: Ah...a pessimist! I am a hopeless optimist and work hard (like I believe man of my colleagues do) to stay visible. I blogged about this for Edutopia. Below is an excerpt I hope you will read:

      "Be a presence in schools each day. I make a point to start my morning in the hallways and then conduct my walks before the day gets ahead of me. Start the day in the office, and you're likely to end the day in the office (save for that weekly administration team meeting). An educational leader's work clock runs at least seven hours. How much time can one possibly spend in meetings and doing office paperwork? Just by cutting one to two hours out of my office day to spend a few minutes in each classroom and hallway of my small school district, I’ve learned more about the little (but often very important) things going on than I would have learned from email, phone calls or hearsay. Besides learning about the evolving culture of my schools, walking the hallways every day and being highly accessible has been key to showing everyone that I care about the school district at every level."
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      Jun 17 2013: Hi Robert,

      You said, "The dollar rules in education ... not the learning."

      During my first year teaching, I had an incredible mentor. She said, "Everyone has been to school so everyone thinks he is an expert in the field."

      This statement is so true.

      So, yes the dollars do rule when it comes to policy.

      However, the dollars do not rule the teachers who are doing the job every day, made more and more difficult with every new piece of legislation.

      I suspect this is why the corporate reformers (with money) and teachers (without the money) have had such a rough time communicating. Those in the corporate world equate money and success. Teachers equate learning and success.

      Hopefully, for the sake of students and progress, us adults will learn to communicate effectively.
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        Jun 18 2013: Your right. The most common means of evaluating a school or a school system is to calculate the amount of money spent per child. The theory being if I spend a bucket full all the kids will be much smarter. This has been going on for years and is still used and is still wrong. The worst schools in the USA by the educational rating system is Washington DC and the BIA system. The big "F" for each of them is cost per child and the drop out rate which are the two key evaluation factors.

        This year the teachers evaluations are being basd on the student scores on the high stakes tests. This almost kills any teacher wanting to go to a innercity school .... the rating will follow you forever. Who thunked this up?

        I think we adults communicate well we just are not talking about the same thing.

        Thanks for the reply. I wish you well. Bob.

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