In every human activity, where expected outcomes become serious goals that are considered important to the continued progress of a society, a business or an organization, expectations--be they visions or goals--guide activity, establish desired qualities of performance and assesses to determine the products' levels of quality: The refining of oil, evolution of smart telephones, break-throughs in medical science, improved performances of automobiles, development of renewable energy sources and the development of the most potent military force the world has ever known are examples of expectations guiding the monitoring and assessing of both the quality and feasibility of processes
However, despite these examples of expectations setting in motion the kinds of activities that spawn new ideas that sometimes challenge and sometimes support established thoughts about matters having implications for the American people, these best practices have not been evident in attempts to address the problems facing those schools which are drowning in the seas of what in many cases appear to be "designed" poor performance. School boards of too many districts have no strategic plans--that they can share with the community--for educating children within their schools. No written expectations are written for superintendents in terms of performance expectation of subordinates and subsequent teacher and student performances. These boards have no written instruments for periodic evaluations of neither itself, the superintendent, assistant superintendents, principals, supervisors, teachers or students. They communicate no meaningful vision and goals, and no strategies for their achievement. Consistent with board and superintendent expectations, boards seem to have no ways to evaluate and modify implemented strategies.
Representative board members never sit in on superintendent staff meetings with district administrators so they can hear discussions about expectations, strategic successes, failures and adjustments and followups--or they never report when they do. There seem to be no attention to academic performances by students and instruction performance by down line instructional leaders. Problem-solving seems to be absent. Focus and follow-ups on problems at all levels seems absent or rarely discussed. Representative board members and the superintendent similarly should sit in on principal faculty meetings. Some visitations should be announced and some unannounced. Everyone is more likely to perform better and seek help trying to perform better when they are expected to discuss demonstrate evidence or either proficient or improved performance.
The best and most interested parental and community representation should have access to academic and performance expectations at all levels of teaching and supervision. Frequent assessments of student performances should corroborate findings concerning administrator and teacher performances and the recommendations that grow out of those performances. Teachers should expose student to the kinds of questions students will face on state assessments. Sample question should be provided by the state. These would provide models for teachers and other instructional leaders who are responsible for developing such effective tests.
To the extent that increased monitoring brings expectations about student performances into better focus, it should not result in unnecessary or unreasonably increased tensions on educators at any level. What would be intended is discovering shortcomings and establishing practical levels of awareness and rectification at each level of instructional leadership and various levels of student performance.
One board meeting each month should be devoted to communicating instructional initiatives and outcome in terms of student performances. The discussions should validate district academic goals or redirect the distric'ts attention to better ways to achieve goals that are going unmet, and the need to clarify goals or establish new ones. Feed-back from previous meetings should provide the foundation to identify educator and student goals for the following--or remainder of current--school year. The community should have opportunities to provide input into the process to supplement the board's and superintendent's ideas or provide ideas concerning additional goals that should be pursued. The goals ultimately should give rise to visions for the district which may give rise to more appropriate goals. Goal-identification, pursuit and assessments become part of a culture of professional renewal in an environment of high expectations, cooperation and professional gratification.
A reasonable time-line should be established for the board, superintendent and subordinate administrators to develop plans detailing how they will help their subordinates improve their levels of performance in carrying out the expectations of their job descriptions. An ombudsman, who could never become superintendent--who will attend all meeting--participate in all meetings and would seek to synchronize the efforts of all levels of supervision. His or her opinion would weigh heavily in determining who will be promoted to higher levels of administration or who should be demoted to lower levels before again seeking higher positions.
An auto dealer would not be able to get away with simply blaming the poor performance of a car he sold on the quality of the gasoline the car owner bought. Similarly, the poor academic performances by students is not always--or ever entirely due to--poor parenting by parents.
Can schools ever perform a efficiently as an oil refinery. or the latest high-performance auto? How can we know if we don't try? And can we ever blame students and parents if we fail to try our hardest? This discourse is an attempt to garner a community commitment to seriously efforts to make all of our schools the best they can be by making our children and our educators the best they can be.
Industry can help the process by lending its expertise about quality control to schools by serving on school boards and providing employment opportunities to district students and, thereby, providing additional incentives for students to aim for academic excellence. Tax abatements for industry should be tied to academic performances and levels of employment of local youth and their parents by such businesses.
But unfortunately none of these can happen, not because they are impossible but because a culture of mediocrity has become accepted within the communities that have failing schools. Low expectations breed low performances by both educators and students. Those within the community who could provide leadership are often among those who have "overcome" and choose not to chance jeopardize their "connections" by trying to change the status quo.
It is hard to understand how one of the nation's oldest profession--that of educating children--which has been around in America for hundreds of years, can show so little progress toward providing opportunities for all American children to have at least as much access to a high quality education as they have to a quality automobile or telephone. How children are motivated to learn should be common place by now. Expecting, providing, administering and properly supervising quality education should be showing the same kinds of progress as have other pursuits within the American culture. Why steady progress in education has not been forthcoming in America is yet another issue about which serious national conversations should be had on a continual basis.