Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hering on the math meeting

Hering's disdain for research (learning?) is never more obvious when he writes about something I've been following closely. For example, the Lebanon Community School District recall. Hering:

The Lebanon school system now is embroiled in the attempted recall of two board members. But strangely, these are the very board members who do not believe the school administration is doing a good enough job.

If I were McUne, Fisher or Shimmin, I'd be pretty annoyed at the insinuation that I think the administration is doing a good job. I think there's consensus that all is not right in the LCSD, especially when it comes to math at LHS. The difference seems to lie more in approach: McUne, Fisher, and (most of the time) Shimmin are willing to follow the law and proper procedure to get something done, whereas Alexander and Wineteer have shown themselves willing to put the district in a position of legal liability as well as bypass anything resembling democratic, deliberative decision-making in Alexander's quest to get rid of Robinson.

I also want to parse a few more claims from Hering's editorial, starting with this statement:

Suppose you run a public high school and do it in such a way that almost half the students enrolled get F’s in a course. Suppose parents are worried and turn up in large numbers to express their concern. Do you let them talk and listen to what they have to say? Or do you insist on talking to them first, then channel them into “small groups” so whatever they say is heard by only a few in each case? [emphasis added]

Was the LHS administration supposed to say nothing? Even if the format had been for the administrators to listen the big group, someone would have had to start the meeting and lay down some ground rules, make introductions, thank people for coming, etc. Insinuating that there was a problem with administrators saying something at the beginning of the meeting is just stupid. (Bear in mind Hering makes no claims about what the administrators said, merely that they - *gasp* - talked at the beginning.)

Hering does get one thing exactly right:

Sure, it’s tough for an administrator to sit there and let a crowd of people beat up on them with words. But letting people speak openly is still the best way to convince them that they’ve had a chance to speak and be heard.

I was a little surprised that Finch and Behn didn't do this. To be blunt, it would have cost them nothing, and would have got them some amount of credibility with parents.

Anyway, back to the point: If Hering is seriously going to claim that it's not a good idea to try and recall two board members while the district is having math problems at LHS, either Hering doesn't care Alexander and Wineteer's actions have been ethically and legally sketchy for years, or he hasn't bothered to find out. Neither reflects well on him.

More and more, I'm buying into the idea that Alexander and Wineteer actually can't get rid of Robinson (at least without some large and decidedly negative fallout), due to a combination of having nuked their own credibility and an unwillingness to give more than lip service to following the law and other necessary procedures.


Lebanon Truth said...

If Finch and Bain had not been listening to the crowd, it would have not taken more than 2 hours to get to the small group portion of the meeting. Now for your readers who have not read the post on our blog, please note that we think it would have been better to let the group remain together.

However, it takes a math teacher to point out that it was not an either or situation. This teacher was tempted to stand up and say, "Okay, let's compromise: we'll spend a half hour listening to you here if you will then spend 30 minutes talking to us in the small groups."

Only a math teacher would think about fractions!

Dennis said...

Interesting and good distinction, LT. I wonder if that means Finch and Behn were listening, but the audience feels like they were not being listened to?

In such a case, perception clearly seems to have won the day, as it usually does.

My question then becomes this: How does Finch communicate to parents that he is listening?

Anonymous said...

Dennis...He would have to genuinely listen and actually want to hear.

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