Administrators – Who Needs Them?! – Part One

(An excerpt from my new book, POOR CHEATED LITTLE JOHNNY, which you can get at www.StepsEd.com.)

Administrators are not teachers. They are middle management. They rarely get their hands dirty with anything so mundane as teaching. But they do like to tell others what to do.

Look, I personally believe that every ship needs a captain. No school should be a “democracy” in the sense that each teacher, parent and student would be allowed to decide for himself how the school would be run. Down that road lies anarchy and, if anything, a grimmer situation for schools than the one they currently face. (It may be hard to believe, but in fact, things could be worse.)

That said, administrators, as we move further and further up the chain of command and farther and farther away from proximity with your child, are the last people on Earth you want making decisions which impact your child.

Taken to its logical extreme, the very last people who should have anything to say about your child’s education would be your government. The only “people” who could make worse decisions regarding your child’s education would be aliens from another planet, being farther removed from your child than members of your government, and potentially hungry for human flesh.

Education is one of those things best left in the hands of those with a real stake in its success. It is best left close to home and in the hands of the student, then the parents and family, followed by a tutor working one-on-one with the child, and then, if necessary, a local teacher or teachers in local classrooms dealing directly with the student.

Proximity is undeniably a key factor in who should determine the elements of a child’s education. So is a genuine connection to the student, one filled with love and concern for the child’s welfare.

In determining what should be done for a child in any given situation, and here’s one equation that you may wish to memorize even if you despise math; distance equals ignorance equals bad decisions equals failure.

How’s that for new math? You can see that sort of math working its way out right now, in nearly every school in the world.

Back to administrators, who generally received their degree in administration. This means that they were sometimes unfortunately schooled in modern methods in education, but are more likely to have been schooled in modern managerial techniques. They are trained to run a corporation called “school”.

Administrators are trained to deal with teachers and other employees, to not offend, to mollycoddle, to baby people in lieu of getting results. They are trained to deal with unions and federal building standards and the like.

Administrators may be many things, but they are not educators.
Administrators should never have any say in a child’s education. Never, ever.

Your child is not a part of the administrator’s staff, and neither are you. You do not work for the principal or for anyone else at your child’s school, and never forget it. The school, all of its personnel, works for your child. If they do not, then the school does not work at all, not with any success.

Administrators are trained to keep their employees happy and on the job, if not spectacularly productive. The very best administrators in any industry are trained to understand the exact nature of the product or service to be sold. A great administrator can do every job that his juniors are asked to do. Such an administrator thoroughly understands the workings of what is being sold and how the product is created. In this way the great administrator is able to look at the organization and its products, correct them as needed, and keep the ship sailing smoothly. Such administrators in any industry are worth their weight in gold.

A great school administrator would be one who thoroughly understood how to really make education and school work. Yes, he or she would still need to deal with schedules and unions. However, everything such an administrator did would be structured to support and achieve the true aims of education, and those are student-oriented.

I personally believe that a great administrator would have a thorough understanding of the concepts communicated in this book, and would understand how to creatively and successfully implement them. Then, I am prejudiced in this regard.

Unfortunately, there are very few great administrators. The percentage of great to good to lousy administrators is, I believe, far worse than it is for teachers – and the percentage for teachers is pretty woeful.

Most administrators have no idea of the real purpose of the organization they administrate. They do not understand that the desired product (read “end result” if you like) is a brilliant and capable young person who can face the world with skills, understanding, and knowledge that will help guarantee their effectiveness and a better world in general.

Most administrators believe that their “product” is a school running on schedule and within budget, with as few complaints from parents and others as possible. This is a craven and near-sighted set of goals, and is so off-base as to the actual and needed results of education as to be sadly laughable.

Nonetheless, these are the goals of most administrators. Oh, and the additional and all-important goal to hang in there on the job until retirement and benefits kick in, let’s not forget that!

Are these the people we should entrust our children to?
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As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.

In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.

CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)

Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.

Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.

Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.

Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.

Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.

For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.

We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!

8 comments for “Administrators – Who Needs Them?! – Part One

  1. September 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I wish to clarify–I’m a learner first. Educator second. Administrator third.

  2. September 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Well, 2 out of 3…

  3. November 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    As a mother, former public school music teacher,and spouse of a former teacher, I’ve had some experience with administrators. Although I know there some out there that are good, I have found that many of them were incredibly incompetent, bullied teachers, and followed the wind of every new educational doctrine. One school model is one where the teachers run the school and hire administrators to take care of administrative stuff and leave the education to the teachers. I personally think schools would be better under that system, provided the teachers didn’t belong to unions, that is.

    Wishing you a song in your heart,
    Miss Leslie @ Music with Miss Leslie.com

    • November 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Hi Leslie,

      It does sound like you know your administrators alright. But all public school teachers belong to teacher unions, I’m afraid. Turning school over to them is a lot like turning the insane asylum over to the inmates – an improvement, perhaps, but doomed from the start to ultimate and dismal failure. After all, most administrators were teachers who went up the ladder to arrive at their level of incompetence. Thanks for writing, keep singing!

  4. December 13, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Maybe I hope to be one of the few, but I will always be a teacher first. My administrative position only means that I have the desire and ability to lead. I truly believe those that can lead, should.

    It is my job to make business decisions for my building along with supporting my students, teachers, parents and community educationally. We cannot do this alone. It takes a combination of all areas to make a school and its children successful.

    I fully support my teachers and their ability to teach our students. However, because I sit in the front office doesn’t mean I cannot use my knowledge as a classroom teacher and experience to improve teacher quality and foresee what’s coming down the pipeline.

    After all, it isn’t programs that raise scores and create success in the classroom- it is a good quality teacher. A good quality school has to contain teachers AND leadership. They go hand-in-hand, just as my teaching and administrative license.

    • December 14, 2012 at 6:16 am

      Hi Natalie,

      I do appreciate you’re writing in, but you have to know what my response is likely to be?

      I would agree that it would be a better thing for administrators to have in-the-classroom time, as a required matter. I would agree that your knowledge of teaching should be applied to your job. I would agree that those who can lead should do so.

      That said, your teachers, as a rule, CAN’T TEACH. So what is it that you’re supporting?

      The system of education enforced on families and their children in the U.S. in particular is literally toxic for most students. I won’t rehash the many articles you’ll find here on this blog, and at Homeschool Under Siege, my other blog covering this subject. Suffice to say that public schools are a miserable failure, have been for decades, and they continue to grow worse by the year. The results of tests, the drop out rate, the amount of school violence and the number of abuses against children by both children and by teachers and staff are terrifying. And yet, for public schools endowed with a “mandate” from our government, and with massive amounts of funding – it’s business as usual.

      You are directly contributing to this system and it’s continuance. When teachers strike for kids, I’ll start to be impressed with statements like yours. (They always SAY they are striking for kids – but they never actually strike for anything other than teacher pay, teacher rights, teacher tenure and job security, etc. Chicago was a prime example of the “holier-than-thou” attitude teachers take while striking to fatten their own bank accounts and retirement funds.)

      You believe in your teachers? Great, then organize a strike to end national standards and the noxious tests they engender. Free your teacher’s hands to perhaps teach. That would go a long way toward convincing me and others that there are caring teachers and administrators who may actually want to get education right. Rather than filling the air with complaints that “teachers are not allowed to teach” because of these standardized tests, teaching to a test, etc – CHANGE THE SYSTEM. After all, you folks ARE the system, its hands, its mouth, all of its execution. Instead of “supporting your teachers”, as you say you do (I’m sure you do), SUPPORT YOUR STUDENTS. They are the reason you have a job.

  5. September 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    This article touches on many of the issues in a text for a course I’m currently taking. I totally agree with you on all counts, having been an elementary and junior high classroom teacher, as well as a special teacher and an adult continuing ed teacher. With a couple of exceptions, the adminidtrators with whom I worked were exactly as you describe them and, while I worked with excellent teachers, the burnout rate is quite exceptionally high. I totally agree with your ideas about homeschooling. In countries where students score higher than our students schools are socialization centers like they are in the U.S. Instead, they are learning centers and most socialization is done outside of school. Given that, I think homeschooling is the U.S. equivalent to that paradigm. Hope you don’t mind if I use your article as a reference for a scholarly article I’m writing next week.

    • September 20, 2013 at 10:23 am

      Hi Geneva. I appreciate your thoughts on this. I agree, “socialization”, such as it is, should not be done in a school environment for many reasons. Of course you can reference me. You might want to look at the book this article came from, as well as my other book about education. You’ll find them at http://www.stepsed.com/info–books-education.php

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