Sunday, November 11, 2007

Inappropriate conduct requires corrective force.

When a public agency seeks to harass, intimidate or hinder an employee to the point where the only release of tension is to abandon their job, a corrective force must be inserted into the equation. This corrective force can take many different shapes.

1. There can be "hush money" - which to accept would be a criminal act and expose the recipient to the same criticism that triggered their initial expression of opposition. Accepting payment and agreeing to keep quiet may make one person content, but it does nothing for the public and is therefore not an acceptable course of action. As the amount increases, the power of the corrective force would normally increase as well, but this is not always the case in the public sector.
2. There can be a legal remedy - which would require the frequent interaction with lawyers, most of whom see solutions in a quantifiable, dollar figure. Hiring a lawyer to help articulate the manner in which abuse has been doled out by an employer does nothing more than trigger more legal costs for the offending party. It does nothing for the public because the behavior of current management will never change. The legal costs may continue to grow, but the inclination toward correcting management style is negligible at best.
3. The spotlight approach seems to be the best path toward meaningful change. While it may involve a lawyer here or there, the fundamental objective is to fully focus time and attention toward matters that are normally left in the dark. This blog is an ideal forum to illuminate issues, disseminate information and unify similarly-offended parties. As the District continues to abuse, harass and intimidate their employees, more contributors will continue to join this forum. With the current District management model, rampant and continual growth is inevitable.

I would love nothing more than to see district management treat staff with greater respect and actively engage mission critical imperatives, but this will never happen without a mechanism for positive change. The District can choose to continually pour money into the bank accounts of law firms in Seattle, or they could take a few steps back, evaluate their current management strategies and make actual changes in how they utilize public resources.

1. They should cast away their elitist mentality, because everyone at the District is a public servant and made a choice to work for their community. There are plenty of other jobs out there and most of them pay a lot more.
2. They should embrace diversity and see it for what it truly is - an opportunity to learn from others and see things in a different manner. Everyone followed a different path to the District, why not draw upon their experiences in developing the best path forward.
3. They should refrain from abusing the public trust and get back to doing the District's work. Handing out money to friends and allies through questionable transactions is not a responsible way to spend public dollars. If you believe in God, pretend He is watching.


old teacher said...

While we may have reached the Edmonds School District by many routes, the current educational philosophy (in Edmonds as well as elsewhere) dictates that there is only ONE road to learning. Forget Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligences (math/logical, kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, etc), we are to unify our curriculum so that all teachers in the same subject and grade level are teaching the same material at the same time. Those "in-service' days are now spent "unifying" the curriculum; if your successful methods and materials are not adopted by your colleagues, you have to do what they are doing. Or perhaps leave. There is now no room for individual "professional judgement." It's going to group-think. "Two heads are better than one" isn't always the best road to drive down.

This philosophy not only ignores the individual student's learning styles, it also ignores individual teaching styles. If it were found that students learn more when the teacher wears a clown nose in class, how many of the proponents of this "unitary teaching" philosophy would do it? Yet they will surely tell the successful unorthodox teacher to change their ways. Look at the "inspirational teacher" movie genre; the hero must overcome some backward thinking administrator, colleague, or other reactionary force. It is not far off the mark; art imitates life.

Anonymous said...

I think it's more about power and ego than doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

In the story that I am familiar with, I would say that the administrator was insecure. S/he was unable to listen to anyone who had a different point of view; they only knew one road to travel. Their reaction was to marginalize and bully those who didn't agree.

Ya gotta wonder what these people were like when they were in the classroom before getting their admin credentials! And what college/university did they go through? Maybe we should be careful of those coming out of certain schools.

Anonymous said...

I'd be wary of SPU grads, if that is the criteria.

Anonymous said...

People should read this.