A Piece Full World

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Saturday, August 24, 2013



 Yippee!  Ya-hoo-ee!  Skippideedooda!  I am one happy school counselor! My new principal is "the bomb!"  He's funny!  He's smart!  He's creative!  He's respectful!  He's available!  Welcoming!  Present!  He greets me!  He's nice to children!  He is saying "yes and yes" again to ideas! And, good God almighty, he displayed our Anti-Defamation League's "No Place For Hate" banner! That puppy looks good hanging its fine self for all to see.  God love that man!

I find myself with a spring to my step and a twinkle in my eye.  I am whistling!  Dancing! 

I am losing weight!  My marriage is saved!  My children are studying!  I am making nutritious dinners!  Exercising every single day!  World peace is at hand....and all because my new principal is a nice man.

Hey, you think I'm kidding?  You think I am nuts?  Let me tell you that the sun is a-shinin' at my school. It's shining up and out of me and everybody else in my school.  God, I love writing MY school and feeling that it's true.  MY SCHOOL TOO!!!!  Our school!  Everybody gets to participate!  

Under other leaders, it was all about them.  They didn't understand that to truly be about them, it had to first be about the children.  Oh, they said it was about students, but it wasn't.  I've gone to a principal about very difficult bullying cases and had her lift her hands and say, "I don't want to know."  What, you don't believe me?  Oh, it's true.  That same principal forbade me to do many things.  Called big-wigs immediately so that they could forbid me too.  Meanwhile students were routinely unsupervised and WILD in the hallways.  It was truly unsafe.  The graffiti in the bathrooms dated back to 2009. I took pictures of it once because I thought my principal just didn't know about it.  That principal did not want to see the pictures.  Hands up again.  Too busy doing important office stuff.

That graffiti is gone now.  My new principal cleaned it up lickedy-split.

And if you've been reading A Piece Full World for at least a little while, you know that I've also worked for the most notorious and dangerous principal my district has to offer.  That's saying a lot.  Because there are so many poor school leaders. Man, I'd like to say he's "in a league by himself," but he's not.  There are a whole lotta nut case principals out there.

But......I"M NOT WORKING FOR ONE OF THE NUT CASES!! I got me a "goodun"  Thank you who ever is responsible for that.

The only complaint I have is that, unlike the principal before him, he is ON TIME all the time! And he's there greeting us as we all arrive on time too!  Guess I'll have to make sure I get up just a little earlier.  It's worth it. World peace is at hand, you know.
2:02 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Do I finally have a "Captain Effective Leader"?


I have a new principal!  First impressions are important and so here goes with mine:

I just in general like him already and after my awful "you-can't-deny-it- because-you-know-it-is-true-and-you-probably-just-want-me-to-shut-up" experiences of leadership in my school district, I am sensitive to signals.  

So why do I like him?  

I like him, first, because of the simple stuff. He greets me.  He makes eye contact.  He uses my name.  He smiles. 

I like him because he asks my opinion.  

I like him because he already is visible.  He's "out and about."  

I like him because he is getting things done.  Sound systems and paint and bulletin boards-new! new!  new!   

I like him because he asks his faculty questions like this:  "Why are you doing this lesson?  How do children benefit?"  Oh, yeah!  I like that!  Maybe, just maybe, I am working for someone who is not just a "box checker" and a "form submitter."  My experience is that there are lots of boxes being checked and lots of forms being submitted of things that really haven't happened anyway. 

I revisit the play I wrote two years ago following my blast of abuse.  U.R.A.J.E.R.K. was part of my healing process.  I'd taken a medical leave and been diagnosed with Acute Specific Stress Disorder. I'd researched workplace bullying and found Drs. Ruth and Gary Namie's site. U.R.A.J.E.R.K. made me laugh and cry and began my wanting to help other targeted educators--good and fine people--laugh and cry also.  I link to U.R.A.J.E.R.K. from A Piece Full World's menu bar. U.R.A.J.E.R.K features Mr. Bully Boss and Captain Effective Leader.  Mr. Bully Boss educates us on abusive and dangerous leadership. Captain Effective Leader (C.E.L.) educates us on effective leadership.  You will note that C.E.L. spells genuineness incorrectly.  He owns it and laughs at himself.  I love that about him. 

Maybe--just maybe--I've got a "Captain Effective Leader" in my life.  I hope; I hope; I hope.....

U. nderstanding. Effective Leaders take time to listen.

R. espect. Effective Leaders, even if they do not agree, always demonstrate respect.

A. uthority. Effective Leaders are confident.

J. enuineness. Effective Leaders are authentic and jenuine individuals. 

(M.E. to Y.O.U)--Hey, he’s Captain Effective Leader, not Captain Effective Speller)

E. nthusiasm. Effective Leaders create excitement.

R. esponsibility. The buck stops with an Effective Leader.

K. indess. Effective Leaders are patient, caring and compassionate people. 

HAVE A GREAT SCHOOL YEAR EVERYBODY!!!!!!  I hope your school districts assure you ALL have "Captain Effective Leaders"!

8:05 am edt          Comments

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

 I am a member of the United Teachers of Dade.  My UTD president, Mr. Fedrick Ingram told me and others that he would make employee safety-specifically in regards to the prevalence of bullying principals--a priority. He is a man of his word.  Following is a quote from Fedrick during a recent bargaining session with Miami-Dade County Public School officials:

 "Additionally, as we return to this new school year, we are looking for full collaboration and due respect in our schools.  We hope the district is sending the same message to all administrators.  We need people in our schools to feel good about what they do.  They have delivered results and they deserve to be respected.”   

Below I copy the recent NEA article about bullying administrators for which I was interviewed.  

Thank you, Fedrick.

Kim Werner
Survivor of Administrative Abuse
NEA Provides Educators with Guidance on Preventing Workplace Bullying

By Cindy Long
Kim Werner’s former principal was identified by her union as the most abusive principal in the district.
“He has been targeting educators for fifteen years,” she says. “He lies. He coerces.  He intimidates.  He screams and uses profanities.”
And he’s still a principal, while Werner is now an Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Trainer.
After a year and a half of constant abuse, Werner took medical leave and reported her principal. She was covered by the district’s Bullying and Harassment policy, and while on leave, requested public records about complaints filed by other educators at her school.
“I soon discovered the horror other educators had experienced under his leadership,” Werner says. “I was shocked and sick inside.  These were simply people who spoke up and addressed his intimidation tactics. They suffered greatly–both professionally and emotionally.”
Bullying leadership is often based upon fear, Werner says, and because bullying principals are scared they “disperse that fear throughout their schools.”
“They are afraid that some piece of bad news will ‘get out’ about their schools and so they manipulate people and data to meet their needs,” she says. “It’s happening throughout the nation.”
She says that when she was bullied, she felt very scared and alone, but ultimately decided to take action. What others do in response to bullying, however, can vary greatly.
“Some align with the bullying brute.  That feels safe,” she says. “Most hide.  A few stand up and say, ‘That’s not right,’ but very few of the ‘hiders’ will support those who stand up because they think it’s not safe, and they’re right.”
To help local NEA affiliates support members who are being targeted by administrators, delegates to the 2012 NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly passed a resolution to “Defend the Rights and Dignity of Educators.”
It calls for NEA to inform its members on ways to challenge administrator abuse of teachers and other education employees, and to support local NEA affiliate efforts to defend the rights and dignity of teachers and other education employees.
“There is no way children will ever be safe from bullying if adults in schools aren’t safe from the same.  Until we assure safety for ALL–children and adults in schools– we will continue to lose the battle,” says Werner.  “It’s treating others with respect and kindness and patience and love.  That’s the real work.”

9:30 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Parents of public school children: WAKE UP!......or just wake up laughing.....

Take a look at the convoluted machinations of educational leadership in the State of Florida.  Do you think ANYONE within "the system" is going to tell Jeb Bush, "Hey, Mr. Bush.  There's some cheatin' goin' on.....?" I don't THINK SO!  Mr. Bush's "Chiefs for Change" is one powerful group of people.  So....you can bet there's some "suckin' up" goin' on...and probably, as David Yamada of Minding the Workplace states, some "kickin' down" too; "kickin' down' of anyone not "suckin' up" but "speakin' up."  Oh yeah.  I woke up laughing.....

From the Washington Post:

The biggest loser in the Tony Bennett resignation

By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 1, 2013

Now this gives new meaning to Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change school reform group.
Tony Bennett, founding Chiefs member, just resigned as Florida’s superintendent of public schools amid a scandal about his actions when he was Indiana’s schools chief. He was forced out of that job late last year by Indiana voters but then was scooped up by the Bush-dominated Board of Education in Florida, where he started as superintendent in January.
In less than a year, Bennett has been ousted from two leading education positions. The first time was by voters disgruntled with his standardized test-based school reform program, which had originally been implemented in Florida under Jeb Bush when he was governor from 1999-2007.
Bennett was a protege of Bush, who became a national school reform leader in recent years through two Florida-based foundations he established  to push his school reform model, which includes vouchers, charter schools and an A-F system to grade schools largely based on test scores.

It was that A-F school grading system in Indiana that led to Bennett’s resignation; the Associated Press published a story about e-mails detailing how Bennett pushed his staff to change the grade of a favored charter school from a “C” to an “A.” Bennett denied he tried to help the school, run by a Republican donor, but the Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, apparently didn’t believe him, or didn’t want to deal with the scandal, because he “accepted” Bennett’s resignation on Thursday.

Bennett was a founding member of and the current chair of Chiefs for Change, a group of former and current state superintendents that Bush assembled to advance his brand of corporate-influenced school reform. Indiana (and other states) use the A-F school grading system for several reasons, including determining how much money schools receive and which schools should be taken over by the state because of poor performance. Florida, coincidentally  voted to change its own A-F school grading system in July in a move labeled as nothing short of a “scam” by critics: The Florida Board of Education became worried that as many as one-third of public schools would see plummeting grades as a result of new and supposedly higher standards resulting in lower student test scores, so it decided that no matter what the test scores are, no school can drop more than one letter grade in a single year.
What Bennett did in Indiana and the Board of Education did in Florida show how little the rules matter to some school reformers who wrap themselves in the mantle of “accountability for all” but try to escape it themselves. In both Indiana and Florida, the Bush-inspired A-F school grading system had to be changed to keep corporate-influenced school reform from collapsing under the weight of its own illogic, revealing the reform model as bankrupt.
But there’s more to this story than the fall of Tony Bennett in Florida.
For one thing, it shows continuous change in Florida in regard to public education under Scott; there have been five education commissioners and interim commissioners in Scott’s 31-month tenure in office. Change can be a good thing, but it can also wreak havoc. Why can’t Scott keep a commissioner? Said Nan Rich, a Democrat and former Florida Senate minority leader who is running for governor: “How can we hold students, teachers and schools accountable if the system’s leadership keeps changing? We need to stop the revolving door of leaders.” She makes a good point.
The ousting of Bennett in Florida underscores a growing schism among Florida Republicans over the future of school reform. That split became clear last month when the state’s top Republican lawmakers asked Bennett to pull out of a group of states designing high-stakes standardized tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards and not to accept those assessments as a replacement for the state’s current exams. Bennett has been a big Common Core supporter, as well as a leading member of one of the two consortia designing the Core-aligned exams. Bush is a big Core supporter, too, but a growing number of Florida Republicans aren’t, including Sen. Marco Rubio.
As a result, perhaps the bigger loser in the Bennett resignation is Jeb Bush, who had  been building a national reputation on his school reform efforts. The end of the Tony Bennett era in Florida education is also part of the decline of the influence Bush has held on Florida education policy in recent years.
It has been an open question as to whether Bush would use his education record as a key part of a 2016 presidential run. As more and more of the Bush reform agenda comes under scrutiny, that education record is likely to be too tarnished for that use.
What, after all, does it say for Bush’s national reform agenda if the former governor can’t influence education policy in the state in which he started it all?

8:38 am edt          Comments

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