[NOTE: Yesterday, State Senator Fran Millar referred to some school administrators in Georgia as “morons.” This was part of a thread posted by Maureen Downey on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Get Schooled blog. This is the context of my post which follows.]
By Dr. John Trotter
State Senator Fran Millar made reference at an education committee meeting that nothing is worse for a teacher than to arrive at a school and realize that he or she has a “moron” for a principal. Ha! St. Paul once asked the Galatians: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” If the shoe fits, then our educational establishment needs to wear it. Too many people have been put in “leadership” roles in the schools who simply lack basic people skills. They don’t know how to treat folks. I appreciate Senator Millar speaking the unvarnished truth. He spoke so as not to be misunderstood. Speak on, Senator, speak out. We hear you!
Unfortunately for the teachers, the Honorable Senator Millar’s rather blunt statement is so apropos and right on target. So many teachers and parents and students have been suffering under the non-leadership (yea, even anti-leadership) of people whom we would not feel comfortable being our babysitters — and yet they are principals of our schools. So, right on, Mr. Millar. You may not have been politically correct, but you were simply telling the truth, a truth that not many people associated with the “industry” of education want to admit.
Throwing monies at the problems in the public schooling process is not the answer. When our State budgeted significantly lower amounts of money (with inflation taken into account) 20 or 30 years ago to public education, more learning took place. Why? Because teachers were allowed to teach, didn’t have to put up with defiant and disruptive students in the classroom, and principals and educrats at the central offices were not petrified by the rants and rages of irate and irresponsible parents. Teachers were supported in matters of school discipline.
Talking about school discipline and supporting teachers: Mr. Norreese Haynes and I attended, at the urging of fellow blogger, Dr. Craig Spinks, the meeting of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education yesterday at the Georgia Tech Research Center on 14th Street. On the panel was Dr. Russell Brock, principal of Loganville Middle School. I was impressed by the young man’s presentation and demeanor. I turned to my friends and stated that I thought that he was the son of Coach Phil Brock and Paula Brock, educators in Green County in the past. I had worked with them many years ago. I think that Phil may have become superintendent, but I am not sure. Paula was the system’s Curriculum Director over 30 years ago when I was hired to teach at the high school. I worked for a wonderful, wonderful principal named Dr. Donald Garrett. Mr. Whitehead was the Assistant Principal, and I can assure you that Mr. Whitehead kept the kids in line. But, back to Dr. Russell Brock. I had stepped out into the lobby to answer a phone call and to get some coffee. Meantime, I was told that, in response to a question, Mr. Brock stated to the audience that one of the keys to his operation of Loganville Middle School was that he supported his teachers in discipline, and that they were right 99% of the time. When they were wrong, he stated that he simply talked to them behind closed doors, thus allowing the teachers to maintain their dignity. I hope that I have related the gist of what Dr. Brock said. I did not hear this first hand. Afterward, I wanted to speak to him and see if he were the offspring of Phil and Paula. I got tied up talking with others, and Dr. Brock got away before I could speak to him. But, someone else told me that his progeny was confirmed. Ha! Good job, Phil and Paula! I know that you are proud of Russell.
Dr. Russell Brock is just another of the many unheralded principals who are apparently supporting and empowering the teachers in their schools. I commend him and the others. As for the apparent “moronic” actions of those to whom Senator Millar alluded, I only wish that they had seen good educational leadership when they were growing up. I am afraid, as former State Superintendent Bradley (Brad) Bryant has alluded on occasion, that many principals today have never in their lives witnessed good administration at a school. Look next door from DeKalb County into Rockdale County. You have the Georgia Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Samuel T. (Sam) King. What does Dr. King and Mr. Brock have in common? Both have two parents who were Georgia educators. They grew up around this “business” and heard about it each night at the dinner table. Trust me. This is when you learn so much about how to run a good school or a school system…at the dinner table. This background makes a difference. Dale, Jr., learned a lot about driving a vehicle at ridiculous speeds by simply listening to his pop talk during his growing up. Martin, Jr., learned more about social justice by listening to his Daddy than reading Reinhold Niebuhr. By the way, Sunday ought to be a great day in D. C. We finally salute a great American at the Tidal Basin. (c) MACE, August 25, 2011.