The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

We’re a City Service

I want to live in a city that is safe, clean, future focused and takes care of citizens. I’m as concerned as the next guy about the federal debt, but I never fail to support a local millage for projects that will enhance the lives of local citizens. Government at the local level is closest to the people they represent, and for that reason, their work is, in some cases, more important to me than something being debated at the national level. I want to live in a city with a strong police and fire department, with efficient lighting, trash removal, and water. I want to live in a city with parks and trails. Most importantly, I want to live in a city with great schools.

Public schools are the most critical city services a community can provide. The work that local teachers do will not only improve the community today, but will enhance the lives of citizens in the future. As educators, our work is to deliver an exemplary public service to our taxpayers, and to do so in a responsible, efficient manner. The service we provide is important for the communities we live in today, but will pay the biggest dividends in the future when the next generation of civic leaders, currenlty studying in our classrooms, move our communities forward. We’re civil servants, and need to remember that our partnership with parents exists not only because we are trusted with the education of their children. It’s also a property right.

City services are not a zero sum game. I want all communities to have quick response times for emergency services and proper street lighting. While I am comfortable with the notion that our local EMS may want to have a better response time than the next city’s, I don’t support the idea of our service provider overtaking the next because of marketplace competition.

In recent years at the state and federal level, education policy has infused free market, business principles into schools. By advocating competition, legislators and organizations often led by people with a business background have missed the mark. While I want our achievement scores to be strong for our students, I want the same thing for all communities. Just like police departments should not compete, but rather, collaborate and share resources, schools should do the same.

I fully support the free market and entrepreneurs. Just not when it comes to city services.

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2 thoughts on “We’re a City Service

  1. I agree with your perspective on this. I think that the competitive nature of high stakes assessments has begun to erode the depth and breadth of our instruction rather than enhancing it. I, too, want high test scores and will continue to strive to prepare our students for the tests; however, I would rather focus on our students competing with their personal bests as opposed to our schools being pitted against one another in competition.

    • Thanks for the comment, your post made me think about a conversation I had with a distance runner recently. We were talking about the most recent marathon he had run and he said “it’s supportive because we all have the same goal, to race against the clock.” In so many ways, our work in education should be the same. There’s nothing but credit given to those who finish a marathon, while the top time may be known, all are recognized for their efforts and a mutual goal of improvement is shared by all.

      This is the kind of mindset we need – supportive high expectations.

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