To say I am disappointed or embarrassed at Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction is an understatement. Many have speculated the conditions that have put our current superintendent in office; I am not here to speculate. My concern is that our current reality is that while Arizona has tremendous potential for growth, the state’s lead educator continues to squander her elected position and is consistently missing this tremendous opportunity provided to her.
The truly unfortunate part of this is that while teachers, students, and educational leaders like myself are going to work every day to provide the students with whom we are entrusted a quality education, she goes to work and devalues our efforts. What Arizona needs is someone who puts the needs of our wonderful students, teachers, and schools above all else.
Instead of hearing inspiring words from the state’s superintendent and plans to improve student achievement and bring honor back to the teaching profession, we hear arguments about who gets to be the “boss,” who touched whom, and why someone “moved my seat.” As a proud elementary school principal and superintendent these topics and statements do not resemble those of our educational leaders. Rather, they mimic statements I hear in kindergarten classrooms.
School administrators in the state and across the nation are held to high professional and ethical guidelines; specifically the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards. These standards are broken up into six categories each having its own unique knowledge, behavior, and practical implications. The standards that school leaders are to adhere are vision, culture, management, community collaboration, integrity & ethics, and social/political responsibility.
Why is it permitted that while our educational leaders are striving to improve schools through the ISLLC standards, the state’s chief academic officer is held to no such standard? The National School Climate Center defines a positive school climate as a key contributor to student achievement and defines school climate as the quality and character of school life. If our educational role models cannot demonstrate positive climate and culture through their actions and words, what must our students be thinking?
I delight in the opportunity to provide support to my staff, service to the community, and set high expectations for my students. But then to come home after a rewarding day at work to find my leader in yet another ridiculous battle with those people she should be working with to support me, my staff, and students is a shame! Enough is enough! Arizona needs a leader who is transformational and willing to put her ego aside and begin rolling up her sleeves to support students and teachers.
Superintendent Douglas, our Arizona students need you to step up to the plate to improve education in our state. Our parents require a leader who understands the challenges facing our schools and identify opportunities to remove barriers to the best education possible; our teachers insist that you attend to the teaching profession in order to increase funding and dignity to education; and our school leaders urge you to begin to address the climate and culture of education in Arizona. As we see on the news every day, the quality and character of the education in Arizona is negative, litigious, and embarrassing.
In a time when classroom sizes are too big, teacher shortages are growing, and school funding is declining; we need a leader who is bringing honor and prestige back to the profession rather than adopting juvenile behaviors to battle colleagues. I am asking Superintendent Douglas to join Arizona’s educational leaders in transforming our current state of education, put childish egos behind, a truly begin to assess her role in Arizona’s educational landscape.
By no means is my goal in writing this to disparage or belittle anyone. My goal is to stress the fact that our jobs as educational leaders require us to act as role models and lead with a servant’s heart. This is a calling which we cannot take lightly and our children are watching. I just hope leader’s change their actions before children start following the example we set. We need leadership through example…no exceptions!
— Joseph Hattrick is principal of Riverbend Preparatory Academy in Laveen and has been in education for 16 years.