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Creating Teams of Leaders

I saw a t-shirt in a souvenir shop with skull and crossbones on one side and the inscription “The Beatings Will continue Until Morale Improves” on the other side. Perhaps this motto should be emblazoned above the facade of Tweed. There is a wealth of literature dealing with leadership, all of which has been ignored by the denizens of Tweed.

The scion of leadership training is Peter Senge, a professor at MIT. The Fifth Discipline  and his subsequent works are now considered the standard for converting corporations into “learning organizations.” Senge’s work “lays the foundation for a true alternative to the authoritarian hierarchy.” Corporation after corporation have imbedded a culture of team-building and employee participation into their leadership structure. The Department of Education has been tone deaf and continues to encourage an archaic leadership model that somehow believes if you threaten and coerce, teachers will improve their skills.

The Leadership Academy somehow believed that the leaders of the future were outside the school system or teachers with very little teaching experience. The Department must create a new recruitment system that recruits potential supervisors from the ranks of teachers and acknowledges that leaders may chose to remain as teachers. Exemplary schools are lead by a team of supervisors and teachers who drive an educational philosophy. Imposing a philosophy, one in which the teachers have no ownership is doomed to fail.

In spite of the authoritarian approach of Tweed there are successful schools scattered throughout the city. In the early days of the “reorganization” Tweed exempted 200 or so schools from the cookie cutter pattern. Rather than investigating what made some school successful while others struggle, Kleinberg ignored the ethos of successful schools. Teachers resent the Tweed imposed Monday Professional Development because it is not organic to what they do every day. In some schools professional development is Circular 6 “common planning time,” teams of teachers examining student work, designing lessons and reflecting on their practice. The Chancellor’s District concentrated on the lowest achieving schools in the city. The Board of Education collaborated with the UFT and created an effective design that had exemplary results with the poorest, least effective schools.

In spite of their press releases Tweed has not “turned around” the school system. Scores rose all over the State, and in other large cities in the State rose at a higher rate than in New York City. If we want to imbed successful practices you must create cultures within schools. Teams of supervisors and teachers who have access to expertise and the ability to create and implement programs that are relevant to their students. Tweed should send Jack Welch on his way and create a Leadership Academy that is school-based, and invites teachers and supervisors to create teams within schools that can drive instructional programs. Beatings will not create a meaningful accountability system.



  • 1 NYC Educator
    · Oct 31, 2005 at 10:02 pm

    I agree completely.

    It’s a shame we’re partnering up with them in their efforts to screw teachers, because that won’t help kids much either.

    I spend an awful lot of time examining student work. Next year, with six classes and lunchroom duty, who knows?

  • 2 Chaz
    · Oct 31, 2005 at 10:17 pm


    You are right on target with your article. Tweed & Klein are the enemy and they do not care for teacher input only that the teacher do what the educrats from Tweed demands.

    Regardless of the contract outcome the UFT must start taking the offensive on letting teachers teach and not submit to insane directives from Tweed.

    Remember, the beatings from Tweed cannot succeed if the UFT educrats would focus on these issues and not on Dafur!

  • 3 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Nov 1, 2005 at 12:24 am

    Bush said weapons of Mass Destruction over and over again and people believed it. Mike Bloomberg says schoola are improving over and over again and people believe. The fac that there is no basis in reality for either assertion semms beyond the point to many.

  • 4 redhog
    · Nov 1, 2005 at 8:27 pm

    Unfortunately,there is the phenomenon of captives becoming enamored of their kidnappers. Under conditions of outrageous stress this happens sometimes with vulnerable personalities. This applies to many susceptible teachers, who faced with brutal supervisors, will turn against their own fellow captives and be informants and other kissups to the administration. beatings sometimes lead to compliance and even fierce loyalty and illusory “productivity.” A tragic paradox and a despicable irony, but too true and common!