The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

How I’m Managing, or What I Think About When I Think About Trump (pt.2)

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…continued from yesterday…

My research didn’t come out of the blue.  Given what was happening on the political scene last year at this time, it seemed  that a major candidate from one of the parties was saying or doing something that smacked of arrogance on a daily basis.  I found myself flashing to thoughts of Dan most every day last year as this ugly scene unfolded.  The things he said still rang clearly in my head.  Finally, I looked around on the internet.

What I didn’t know at the time of my interview with Dan was that I was talking with the Indiana Teacher of the Year for 1995.  Also, Dan had collected further acclaim as a Milken Educator for some innovating pedagogical strategies he developed and implemented in the Evansville school district.  The Milken Awards people refer to their recognition as the “Oscars” of teaching and seek out “…early-to-mid career education professionals for their already impressive achievements and, more significantly, for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.”

Eventually, Dan left Indiana all together and took a position as a principal at a high school in South Carolina.  He lasted nine years before somebody tested him on the claim he made to me about knowing how to cheat.

I discovered that for his final two years as a principal, Dan changed two hundred and fourteen grades for thirty-three students.  According to what I read, grades were changed from failing to passing, and Dan said he did it to provide motivation to students he felt had worked hard and deserved a break.  His considerations did not, however, include his district’s policies for changing grades.  At least one teacher complained about this to the right people, and those people concluded through an investigation that Dan had done exactly what the teacher accused him of doing.  He not only broke district policy, but state law.  The superintendent demanded Dan resign, and he did.  He later surrendered his administration credentials to the South Carolina Department of Education.

None of this surprised me when I read it last year.  I was actually pleased in many ways.  I could list about ten administrators I’ve known in my career who I’d like to see get caught for stunts they pulled.  Invariably, their reasoning comes back to the most tired excuse in public education:  Trying to help students.  By a cursory examination of the numbers alone, Dan changed six or seven grades per student, and could have wiped out an entire semester or academic year of failing grades for a student.  It’s unclear to me how that helps a student, except in the immediate circumstance of them failing and potentially not graduating.  However, the consequences of Dan’s decision are tremendous.  He completely nullified the judgment exercised by the teachers who saw those students every day, and ignored the standards those teachers set.  Plus, students got the idea from an authority figure that they can work around difficulties in their lives.  I could go on and on about this issue, but suffice it to say illicitly changing grades is a serious offense.  That’s why school districts have substantive policies in regard to how it’s done, and why states have laws that apply to how it’s done.

It’s not uncommon for teachers to have a strong bent towards social justice, and I am no exception in that regard.  I want to see things done the correct way and according to policies that I am mandated to follow, and it bothers me when people who are in leadership positions flaunt authority and act with impunity.  It seems I wasn’t the only one bothered by Dan’s unprofessional and unethical behaviors (I never thought I was, not with how blatant he was with me over a mere few hours of interaction), but finally somebody stepped up and Dan had to face the consequences for his selfish, short-sighted decisions.  There was overwhelming, irrefutable evidence of him going too far.  I cling to this thought and to the understanding that our country in many ways is built on the idea of accountability and fairness from the top of the government all the way down to the private citizen.  I’m heartened by the fact that Dan was caught and punished, and I’m hoping that more of the same happens at a much higher level in regard to someone who seems to have been a role model for how Dan conducted himself.



Written by seeker70

March 14, 2017 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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