People who choose careers in education understand that learning is a social act that has as much to do with affect as anything else. A positive learning environment and an environment marked by fear are mutually exclusive. Schools and classrooms are parts of a larger organization, and if the culture of that organization is rooted in fear and intimidation, those qualities will eventually become part of our classrooms.
I don't think anyone disagrees that accountability is part of a healthy and successful organization. Nor do I think anyone disagrees that the right people have to be in the right jobs for the same, or that it doesn't take a strong leader to make all that work. If, however, those functions are being carried out in a manner that is misaligned with the larger values of an organization, that misalignment will hemorrhage the sense of purpose within that organization -- people's priorities shift from a mode of shared organizational purpose to a mode of individual self-preservation.
If Tony Tata was running the school system in the manner described in this article, I do not find it hard to see how it was time for him to find another position. He was the instructional leader of the district. If any teacher treated their students the way that's described here, their fate would be the same. If any principal treated any of their teachers in that manner, their fate would be the same.
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Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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