2003 June 08 Sunday
An English Headmaster Explains Why He Resigned

Nick Butt, a former English school headmaster, explains why he quit.

The irony is that the very schools the government intended would benefit from the relief are too preoccupied to bid for it, and the schools which are not so afflicted take the money instead. Why couldn’t the government simply give me the money and save me writing the bid? I have written bids for behaviour-management money, for sports-facilities money, for a nurture group, for literacy support, for after-school clubs, for our playgroup, for administrative staff and for building projects. Often my bids are successful, so then I have to write reports proving I have satisfied the requirements of the funding, because there are always requirements. After a year the money dries up, and then I have to prove ‘sustainability’ and write an ‘exit programme’. It is incredible how many projects I have sustained without any money. My bidding days are over, because now I have resigned.

He spent his time writing proposals to get money, going to mandated training programs, and going to mandated meetings while being pulled at by various outside bureaucracies all with their own agendas. He lacked sufficient power to solve problems and fix what was wrong but was accountable for all that went wrong.

When power and responsibility are increasingly separated a society will decay. The same pattern this former headmaster reports in England has been happening in the United States as well. If unions have more power and state departments of education have more power and the federal department of education has more power then the managers of the schools have less power. The relationship between the management, parents, and pupils becomes relatively less important. This is not good. Vouchers hold the promise of slicing thru the Gordian knot of bureaucracy that has schools tied up. My biggest reservation about vouchers has to do with religious schools. A voucher system would be problematic if vouchers could be used to send children to Muslim fundamentalist schools. But if only Muslim schools were excluded then that would probably be considered by the courts as an unacceptable favoring of some religions (basically anything non-Muslim) over another religion.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 June 08 01:57 AM  Civilizations Decay


Comments
chris macrae said at June 9, 2003 2:07 AM:

Whilst not being a teacher, I am passionate that we cut through this red tape that is strangling the evolution of our schools at a time that guess what - the world is changing fast - and the content of 12 year old curricula up needs to too.

I would like to form an email club of people who just care about debating this where one of our goals would actually be to identify who has spent a lifetime struggling against this system and may have much more common sense solutions than all the buraeucrats, and particularly the performance measurers who have in paralle public service areas become clearly a major part of the whole problem. mail me if you care too

chris macrae said at June 9, 2003 2:09 AM:

oops my email is wcbn007@easynet.co.uk

John Moore said at June 9, 2003 9:44 AM:

I found this article both depressing and inspiring. Depressing in its depiction of an education system so riddled with bureaucracy and driven by targets; inspiring that someone is willing to stand up and be counted against it. As a fan of Alfie Kohn's Punished by Rewards, I loath the behaviourist dogmas implicit in policies of incentives, bids, excessive performance fixation etc. I believe that the great majority of teachers must hate the system in which they have to operate. It's as though all trust has been excluded from management and a huge - unmeasured - price is paid by all stakeholders.


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