Have You Thanked Your Public School Administrator Today?

Or ever, for that matter?

For the record, no matter what it paid, I could never be a school principal or superintendent. I would likely need a permanent IV drip of a mood relaxer to not rip people’s heads off at the constant cacophony of complaint.

I’ve had the pleasure (and I’ll be honest, on a few rare occasions, the displeasure) of working with a lot of elementary school principals, all at one time, during my stint in character education. They were, primarily, hard-working former teachers who wanted the best for all kids in their care, and who shouldered a heavy burden of responsibility for how these kids turned out by the time they were finished with their school.

We’re living in a time when funding for public schools is shrinking. In our own large district, budget cuts were just passed last night that mean the elimination of some support staff (math/reading specialists who help kids who are lagging behind), the slimming down of office staff, and the potential for class sizes to increase. None of it is good or desirable.

We have a new superintendent who is having a rough first year, starting with having to change school start times mid-year due to major busing issues. This was met with such hateful rancor that I was embarrassed to be associated with the district. No, I don’t love that my kids leave for school at 7:15 instead of 7:30. Yes, maybe there is a better solution that can be worked out for next year or the following…but we ARE talking about 15 minutes here. Simply loudly protesting at meetings or on Facebook about how much you hate it, instead of going to someone for an answer? It’s a black eye on the district and your school when you’re only willing to be a loud part of the problem and not a thoughtful part of the solution.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t make your opinions known…I firmly believe that public opinion/outcry resulted in not as many specialist positions getting cut as were in the original plan. I don’t believe, though, that simply signing a petition or complaining about it on Facebook made that happen.

I can only assume that the new superintendent is a nice person with good intentions; I haven’t met him. I can’t fathom that it was his dream to move across two states just to be met with problems and hostility at every turn, and have to cut programs that help kids, and that this brings him some kind of joy.

The flip side of budget cuts, of course, is that we could have a superintendent who isn’t savvy about the budget, and continues to run our school district into the ground. Because if that happened, you can bet that there would be a loud protest of “why didn’t we see this coming and make the changes we needed to a long time ago?” Sadly, money still doesn’t grow on trees, and sometimes, changes have to be made.

School funding has been reduced over the last several years, with the economy in the tank…less spending = less tax money/lower home values = less money for schools. School funding is also determined by attendance rates; did you know that? So no, I’m not suggesting that you send your little darling to school with a fever, but I am suggesting that you take into consideration how many days you take kids out of school for things that aren’t necessary. Because it’s very easy to complain about how schools are “all about the money” without realizing that your practices could be a drain on the money coming in. The money that your school, and district, need to provide the programs for your child.

I’m not trying to Pollyanna a difficult situation…there were real cuts made that have a real impact on real kids, and real people who are going to lose their jobs. It’s not good. But neither is constant negativity, or contacting the press with your loud opposition WITHOUT offering a solution to budget issues. Because ignoring them isn’t an option.

You DO have a choice, though. Don’t like your public school? Do something to help it improve…join the PTO, or a planning committee for the district. Or move to a different public school district, where I guarantee administrators are facing the same issues. Or send your kids to private school. Or homeschool them. You have options.

So go. You might not be in the exact place we are right now, but tell your administrators, building or district, thank you. Thank them for working hard to make sure that your kids are getting the best education possible on the funds available. Ask them what you can do to be a part of brainstorming solutions, or what you can do to support their efforts on behalf of your kids. And while you’re there, thank your kids’ teachers, too, because I’m willing to bet they hear more negative than positive.

Pray that they make wise choices that are in the best interest of all kids.

Start being a part of the solution.

9 responses to “Have You Thanked Your Public School Administrator Today?

  1. You did SUCH a well-thought-out job on this topic–thanks for tackling it!! I know my feathers are instantly ruffled when I hear/read thoughtless attacks on education (& usually on teachers), mainly because people just don’t know what they’re talking about in MOST cases. You’ve defended a group that’s even easier to rant & rave about–the administrators–and you’ve brought up excellent points.

    I’ve worked under some admins that were, let us say, not strong; and I’ve worked under some that were excellent; but in either case, they are always having to make no-win decisions and bear the consequences, whether deserved or not. People go berserk when they hear about some of the high salaries earned by upper admin (and that’s just SOME; admins in smaller districts aren’t earning huge bucks), but they have little knowledge of the scope of the job & how many hours that person is involved in it.

    Great reminder to find ways to give positive feedback to someone who most likely receives very little of it! And great reminder to do something other than just complain, esp to people or in places where it does zero good.

  2. Were you AT my school district’s community forum of 700+ people last night? Where there were picketers and police protection? Where there were enraged parents- so angry that their kids are going (with their entire elementary school) to a brand new state of the art junior high that, yes, is not in their backyard and will require a longer bus ride, but will also have new everything and low classroom sizes? It’s maddening that so many people stay in their bubble and cry foul instead of stepping out and enlightening themselves.

  3. I saw that on the news last night and the bottom line that hit me was just how hard a time schools are having keeping the doors open. I’m sure it’s an administrative red-tape nightmare. This year has been my first experience at a public school and I’m slowly learning. So far I adore the staff and administrators of the school and think the world of them. You know the principal for our school stands outside every morning in the carpool/drop off line to say hi to parents and help kids in the door? That’s pretty awesome in these frigid temps. I think I owe them a Starbucks gift card….

    • Nice! Our principals take turns standing out to greet, along with the PE teacher, who has awesome rapport with the kids. I think that morning greeting is SO important!

  4. As a public school English teacher, I TRULY appreciate this thoughtful post. Thank you.

  5. Wonderful post as always. I can fully appreciate this post if for no other reason than the fact that I have dealt with ours so regularly, and I know what they go through. Your last sentence says it all my friend. Great job!

  6. Thanks, Nicole, for all the support! Public schools (esp. teachers and principals) DO want what’s best for their students…even as changes must be made…

  7. So well put! No, I’m not a teacher or anything but a mom to 5 kids in school. My husband is a school board member, though, and they have had to make some difficult decisions lately. We live in a very rural area in Kansas. Our kids attend the same building for school from Pre-school through 12th grade graduation. Programs are being cut, parents are getting mad, teachers are not getting the pay they heartily deserve, but we do still have a high quality school where my kids have thrived and learned important lessons.

    I do volunteer at the school from time to time, and parents in our small town are deeply involved at the school. But do I take the time to say “Thanks?” I don’t think I do. So, guess what…tomorrow we have a tournament basketball game that many teachers will attend to watch their students play in post-season tournaments. Do they have to be there? NO!! They go because they love our kids–so I will be sure to tell them each thanks!

    Thank YOU for the reminder!!

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