Tuesday, June 30, 2009

School Governance in NYC II - by Jacob Morris

School Governance in New York City II
From Control to Contempt by Jacob Morris

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" – Lord Acton
"Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it" - William Pitt

Personally I do not like the word Power, in my view, Power is an Illusion and Responsibility is a much healthier concept for us to keep foremost in our mind as something we value. All too many people have become careless in their interchangeable use of the words Power, Control, and Authority. Actually, the terms Control and Authority are much more precisely understood and utilized in general discourse for this analysis.What is Control? Is it like an on/off switch, or can it work on a sliding scale? Then there's the question of what is it you are controlling, a machine or something that is alive? And lastly, what are the limits? When do we cross the line towards disrespect and/or contempt for whatever it is, man or machine that we have control over, or responsibility for?

Let there be no doubt, it is just as possible to disrespect a machine, (and have it breakdown on you) as it is to disrespect Human Beings and also whatever Panel, Team, Entity, the function of which those human beings happen to be participating in.Ultimately, if someone holds (like the Mayor or the Chancellor for example), the absolute authority over someone to dismiss them at will, that translates into an example of arbitrary and capricious Absolute Power. This is not a healthy situation, either for its Possessor or the Human Beings serving in such a state of discretionary limbo. If you appointed them to this position, to advise on educational and issues policies, because you believe in their qualities of Knowledge and Intelligence, then what are you afraid of? What it may be is that you do not believe in discussion or the integrity of the people you appoint, and when Push comes to Shove, what you are really saying is that you want them to be Robots.

In a Transportation System, like a poorly made car, people when they stop believing in its quality and utility, stop buying it or riding in it (Sound familiar, GM & Chrysler?). In a School Governance System, when people stop believing in its credibility, they stop participating in it, they hold it in ridicule and they call it a rubber stamp.

Given the critical societal importance in which we hold the quality of decision-making regarding the education of our children, to give such arbitrary and capricious absolute power over the individuals serving on such an ostensibly valuable Educational Policy Panel will inevitably lead to the holders of that power viewing those Individuals, the Panel and the functions of that Panel in Contempt.What do we want? The answer is "Fixed Terms", and the ability to place items on to the Agenda. Even if the Mayor has a majority of appointments, as long as the members have fixed terms, they need be able to maintain some reasonable level of personal Intelligence and Integrity in regards to the discussion of various Educational Policy Issues that come before them in their roles as members of the Panel.Also, in approaching this from the perspective of quality team functioning, provision for independent and completive Professional Development must be delineated clearly by Legislative Authority as a resource for the Panel to render quality decisions on the quality of our Children's Schooling and to increase the credibility in which the Panel's deliberations are viewed by our Community.

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