EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP: The "Interesting" Profession
©1999 Edward G. Rozycki
"May you live in interesting times!" -- Chinese curse
The Pacific Rim Countries threatened to dominate world markets. Employee productivity was down. Stagflation was rampant. Some rabblerousers pointed to Reaganesque taxing policies that, in effect, shifted critical wealth from middle to upper class households. Other malcontents criticized arbitragers who dismantled viable enterprises to make profits at the expense of employees and stockholders with fewer options. Some even went so far as to say that Savings-and-Loan mismanagement, permitted by changes in investment rules, had a negative effect on the economy.
Luckily, persons of deep insight, realizing that corporate America could never be held responsible for the state of the economy, exposed to public view the real cause of America's decline to an n-th rate power. The public schools were at fault! Administrators didn't know how to administrate; teachers didn't know how to teach; and, students didn't know how to study. Just as post-World War II educational faults enabled the Russians to put up Sputnik in 1957, so had school house tomfoolery made the United States a Nation at Risk in the hard world of economic enterprise.
Many leading educators, no doubt working on the premise that to be admonished or held up to ridicule is better than to be ignored, rushed to the public confessional and explained how all the criticism was valid. Practices they had long had doubts about could be reformed -- with their leadership -- and the economic miracle of the early fifties -- happy days! -- be rekindled. Amnesiac America welcomed refurbished gimcracks and geegaws as novel and inspiring educational innovations. Family values, for example, were one of the many points of light that would reopen and illumine the closed American mind. We would prevail, despite the resistance of recalcitrant educators, against the Soviet Union in the twenty-first century.
Then the Soviet Union collapsed. Not because of internal contradictions, not because of mismanagement, not because of a corrupt educational system, but -- mirabile dictu! -- because of the virtues of American corporate management! WE HAD WON! More recently, the tigers of the Pacific Rim have proven themselves to be pussycats. The Dow-Jones has gone over 11,000. There's no limit in sight to American economic growth. And whom do we have to thank for this?
Do we hear the raised voices of our educational leaders claiming credit? Why not? Does post hoc ergo propter hoc , which works in times of stress, not function equally as well in times of celebration? Or, perhaps, uneasy consciences resulting from promulgating bad theory and obsequious political behavior are best calmed by the penance of congratulations foregone.
Anyway, now that things have calmed down, educators have enough to do tending their own gardens and continuing on with the reforms that were instituted in order to ... ? So as to ...? For the reason that ...? Because of the dangers of ...? It will all get clear with the next crisis.
For a related article about what stymies educational leadership, see: