Help: Will Administrators help support Neighborhood Schools?
Original post made by Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2006
It strikes me that if PAUSD decides to move to an Alterative/Choice program model, away from Neighborhood Schools, then the concept of Site centered leadership (i.e.: site principles) becomes obsolete to the concept of Program Directors.
It strikes me that a successful Alternative program model requires program leadership that is particularly peaked, knowledgeable, experienced, by Program, an organization of specialists rather than generalists organized by geography. Decisions for those programs for everything from staffing, funding decisions, curriculum, student performance, accountability, all would probably need to run through a program director for ideal results.
We already have seen this at work with our current choice programs, with the principals and/or programs moved and matched to create alignment of expertise, interest and experience (Spanish Immersion, Hoover come to mind.) I'm sure the same would need to occur for a successful Mandarin Immersion choice program.
I'm not arguing against this organizational structure, since it is probably the way it has to be if we are to be a district of Alternative/Choice programs. We will need program specific experts running those programs for optimal results, rather than site generalists. But it will have an impact on the types of administrators PAUSD employs in the future.
It's a philosophical change for this district, and it really hinges on whether this community supports moving away from generally equivalent Neighborhood schools to a district primarily of Choice Programs. It’s a strategy decision the Board should be making publicly (with public and educator inputs). So far the board has not been acknowledging the need to address the broader strategy implications before they make more yay/nay decisions on additional choice programs.
Can or will the administrators take the opportunity to support our Neighborhood Schools? They'll have a mediator now, so perhaps they have a golden window of opportunity NOW to stand up for what they believe.
(Whatever that may be, because certainly we've heard not much about which model they support, perhaps fear or political correctness has squelched their voices to this point.)
I wonder if this long term strategic model is something the principles and administrators are thinking about, and talking to the board about. Perhaps they are in a unique position of bargaining power right now to help support the Neighborhood School concept. I hope so. Please help us save our neighborhood schools.