The World of Parents

A Note to Our Grandkids' Principal: A New Year's Greeting
January 10, 2011

Dear Mr. Chappell,

Your New Year's email was a pleasant surprise! Happy to hear that you had so many positive reactions from teachers and parents to theThank A Teacher video which you decided to place on your school website.

What a coincidence! We too spent the winter break visiting Disney World. It sounds like your children enjoyed it as much as our grandkids did. In the 70s and 80s, yours truly, the school principal, was about the only Disney World hold out at my school. I must admit that Karen and I and the grandkids truly found it magical and lots of FUN!

I'm energized by your suggestion to continue to be in contact and share our perspectives regarding educational matters. Two principals "Bridging the Years" is an amazing prospect for me. (Yes, I was first a principal in the late 1960s and you in the late 1990s, 30 years apart. So much has changed and yet so much remains the same.)

I understand from your email that Teacher and School Bashing nationwide is of great concern to your staff. No wonder they react that way! The media loves all the hype surrounding Waiting for Superman while it has annointed Education Secretary Arne Duncan, with his misguided policies, the educational Silver Bullet. (How many times can we bear listening to him on TV repeating the story about his mother's now famous tutoring center in Chicago?)

And then there are all those super wealthy "school reformers" that Diane Ravitch calls the Billionaire Boys' Club all aiming to privatize a precious democratic American institution, the American public schools. Put all those "boys" in classrooms for a week and then let them suggest a few ways of improving schooling and education. Maybe improving working conditions for teachers and time for teacher collaboration might come to mind after they have recovered from their week! In addition, they might realize that firing a whole school staff or closing 5% of the "least effective" schools nationwide each year is just plain simplistic and destructive.

I'd like to suggest two resources for you and your teachers. One is the Not Waiting for Superman Website and the other is a lecture (video) by Stan Karp "Not Waiting for Superman: Who's Bashing Teachers and Public Schools, and What We Can Do About It." Hope they are helpful!

On a lighter note, here are two Simpson Anti-Testing Videos here  & here  which throw a few punches at the TESTING and No Child Left Behind tsunami in which America's teachers and students are drowning. Also, they might strike a chord with parents on your school website.

Looking forward to our "Bridging the Years" correspondence. Your suggestion that the subject be Professional Development (PD) sounds like a good starter. I don't know whether or not you're on Twitter but I am and recently came across 10 Alternatives to Standard Professional Development ( @ShellTerrell via @Mzimmer557) which might be of interest.

Wishing you and your family a belated healthy and happy New Year.

My best,
(Sarah's and Tim's Granddad)

P.S. May I address you as Ed in the future rather than the more formal Mr. Chappell?