So, the 5-yr-old starts kindergarten in about ten days, which means we’re officially on the New Britain school district‘s mailing list. Today’s mail brought a calendar for the year, plus a letter from the superintendent. I learned many things from this newsletter:
- The school district has *both* a mission statement *and* a vision statement. It has *both* a “district brand” (“Students first”) and a “leadership brand.” The leadership brand is hilariously bad: “Uncompromising focus on improving instructional practice and student performance [so students aren’t even grammatically first–jbj]; demonstrating creativity and ability [d’oh! missing article] to think and act in unique ways [wtf? psychopaths also act in ‘unique ways.’ When did uniqueness become a value in its own right?]; establishing a normative environment that values continuous and progressive learning, collectively and individually.” I don’t think they know what uncompromising focus means: How can you focus on all those different things? On the other hand, what I like about the leadership brand is that it establishes straightaway that the school district’s leadership is probably bad (it can’t even compose a grammatically correct leadership brand!), and not to be trusted. So, in that sense, it’s meaningful.
- The superintendent really has no gift for style: “As you know the budget given to the Board of Education by the City required the Board of Education to reduce its budget by $10,600,000.” Oh, right: And the school board’s short $11million. Maybe omitting another article would save money: “We are working very hard to minimize the impact of [words like a, this, or the should be here] $10,600,000 budget reduction on an already inadequate budget.”
- While the school district’s short $11 million, it did have time to import a corporate fad–again, introduced in horrible prose: The new school calendar “includes many Thursday early dismissal days. [! “many early dismissal Thursdays.”] We named them Kaizen Thursdays. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life. We know this places a burden on you and that it reduces instructional time for your children. [I don’t think the superintendent understands what the referent of “this” is.] However, it is extremely important that we capture time for our teachers and staff to meet and train. We cannot afford to pay staff to stay after normal work hours. Yet, it is essential that the quality of work continuously improves. [Quick! Someone review the subjunctive mood.] We are striving to do more with less by creating a highly efficient ever learning school system [Maybe we could move the superfluous comma after yet in the previous sentence and interpolate it between efficient and ever.].” (I have no problem with the idea behind it. But get me someone who can write!)
- They also fired all the kindergarten support staff–but kept all-day kindergarten for most (not all–our boy is in half-day, fortunately) kids. So, bigger classrooms, with fewer teachers, for longer hours. For 5 year olds. That ought to work out well. Why not go half-day, and keep the paraprofessionals?
I know that mocking the prose of educrats is really Margaret Soltan’s beat, but she can’t be everywhere at once. Plus, this is my kid, in the school district where we live.
It’s going to be an interesting few years.
Update: There a robo-voicemail this evening to parents with children in the school system, announcing that meeting’s been called for this Thursday to discuss the blowback from implementing early-dismissal Thursdays.