Wishful Thinking.

Pretty much, except the threats aren't as obvious.

Pretty much, except the threats aren’t as obvious.

There was a discussion of student placement in classes next year, and how it would be “data driven.” That discussion had a number of elements and axes, not the least of which were SRI scores, Grades in Class, and Interim Assessment Scores. When I asked, “What’s the formula for balancing all of those?” I was given about five minutes of Corporate Double Speak. At the end of that, I said, “So there is no formula.”

“Not at this time, but that’s not a problem.”

It isn’t?

I also spent a huge amount of time working on an analysis of statistical information relevant to our students’ disciplinary issues. A few weeks ago, I was asked to somehow “immortalize” that presentation, meaning give it in a fashion that could be used to justify decisions that I don’t support. I didn’t do that, of course. Still, I’ve started to discuss the measures that we should take, to ensure that the school doesn’t have that kind of fiasco next year…whether I’m there or not.

That discussion is equally useless and founded in an incredible kind of wishful thinking. The most common element in all of the planning for next year is a theory that if there is change, that change automatically has to be good change. Where I support the idea of buying a new curriculum, and standardizing the efforts of various academic departments…I can only frown on failing to take responsibility for the things that have gone wrong this year. One of those problems is a unilaterally poor inclusion of staff in decisions that they would have to stand by for the duration of the school year. Another was the total failure of basic procedures for simplistic day to day operations at the school site.

Our Faculty Meeting the other day degenerated into a debate about such Wish Based Paradigms. Last year, there was a huge debate with the grade eight teachers about the criteria for graduation, and “Credit Recovery.” The Pledge LA Academic Leader said, in no uncertain terms at that meeting, that THIS year we would be following the new “point system” adopted by the District. Seems simple, right? Pass a class, and you will get a number of academic points that contribute to graduation requirements. Points are only given for a C or higher…and the number of points needed makes seventh grade classes count.

I will stress again…the ostensible head of our school’s management, ABOVE the level of principal, said this was the rule a year ago. In front of a third or more of the staff.

Apparently, we are both NOT sticking to that plan…and allowing students to recover units for graduation by picking up trash on a Saturday. Is that the message that we want to send? Do the same kind of Community Service that the prison system confers? Or worse…that somehow picking up trash is the same intellectual pursuit as balancing a series of equations, explaining the Fall of Rome, or reading “The Hobbit” with thematic understanding? I should think not.

However, graduation rates are so low, that we are pretty much rubbing the lamp, and making wishes. Both for academics, and behavior of students. It’s a depressing environment to be in, where Academic Integrity seems to be minimal, as well as any kind of real accountability for anyone…especially the adults.

I can’t imagine the idea of picking up trash to recover academic units ever being okay on the West Side of Los Angeles. I think in that primarily college bound community, the very thought would create a kind of PTA driven anger, that you would have a mob with pitchforks and torches lined up around the school, like they were after Frankenstein or Dracula. I myself said in that Faculty Meeting that it seemed like a kind of “casual disrespect” to the student who had been working at academics the whole time, struggling to make those units happen from grades alone. As it should be.

Instead, we are doing a kind of “wish fulfillment.” The same is true of detentions. We are apparently now offering one day detentions, where a student shows up, and magically ALL of their detention hours are washed away. Forget the idea that they could have been serving them as they went, and it completely undermines the entire behavioral system based on them. This is what we are doing apparently. It’s neither good for kids, nor good for the adults that had faith that a system was being built that had accountability in it.

So…when asked to “immortalize” my presentation, I choose not to. However, to this point, I have been using the information in it only to inform, not to indict. It seems, before the year closes out, I should change the order of those words, and use that information to indict a little bit…and then, just maybe, we can get away from Wishful Thinking. There’s no Magic Genie in that Lamp anymore, for a multitude of reasons.

About the Art…Agrabah is hard to draw. The spires and so forth. Hard. I was a bit unhappy with how light the pencils on Jafar’s headgear came out, but he is a sort of ghostly image…not really worth it to fuss. Jasmine clearly represents the good kids, heck, good people, held hostage by self indulgent policies, embodied by Jafar. Our hero is wearing the Drax inspired T-shirt again…mostly because although I’m not on vacation yet, the work related shirt seems inappropriate.


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