Last week this paper published portions of an internal document used to shape and articulate discussions among members of the school district's administrative teams. It was with shock that I saw portions of it reprinted, especially as this document was divulged without the knowledge or authorization of the district's Management Team, of which I'm a member.
Rather than discuss the impropriety of this action, or the degree to which this statement may or may not reflect the administrators' experience and attitudes, I believe the more critical issue is the impact of this action and information upon our community, the district's work and how we consequently choose to interact with each other.
To "hijack" a process and "shaft" professional relationships in such a public forum undermines our collective need to trust one another and to support the district's vision and current work. Impacted relationships are fragmented and the trust and ability to engage in real dialogue is lost in the shock and anger of the action.
The school district is in the midst of framing its future work through a collaborative approach to fundraising, attendance boundaries, foreign-language instruction and its daily focus on student achievement. The gossipy revelation of what had been an internal document means that we risk losing our focus upon this future, upon the relationships and values that have created an exceptional educational organization.
We must not manipulate situations by taking them into the public arena. To do so cheats the process, makes a joke of dialogue, ignores the beliefs and experiences of others and sets a devastating precedent of "end runs," entitlement and anger. Such action, in an educational organization, derails our roles as student advocates and instructional leaders and results, instead, in a fragmented, individualized and defensive response to our professional roles and responsibilities.
As the community watches the district work through its communication needs, we have an excellent opportunity to rethink our own interactions. And so I challenge us to protect our right to disagree, to support procedures that are democratic and respectful, and to engage in actions that elicit the best in our community and in each other.
[Published in the Palo Alto Weekly 10/4/06]
Link to the document: Web Link