To the Editor:
Public schools are a product and a reflection of their institutional bureaucratic setting. On the surface, laws, rules, and policies appear to provide continuity, but their sheer number strangles open communication, flexibility, and innovation, and this leads to a lack of collaboration and cooperation both inside and outside the system.
Powerful interest groups within the education system battle over issues, claiming superiority in knowledge and facts, even while they are intent on preserving their own influence and authority. Do these special-interest groups allow their own self-interest to overshadow a genuine search for facts and evidence? If so, this confounds the quest to transform education and does a serious disservice to students, who should be the real focus of the entire educational establishment. These groups must commit to honestly identifying educational problems along with their own contributions, both constructive and detrimental to education rather than sinking to the level of drawing a line in the sand.
We must take the dialogue to a higher level so that issues can actually be resolved on behalf of students. If we are to transform the education system, then all stakeholders must be encouraged to exercise their rights and responsibilities as parents, teachers, community members, and legislators to ensure that individual students are the primary focus of all efforts. As a rule, that isn’t happening within the antiquated system, as it regularly resists authentic partnerships and lasting reform.
Ayn Marie Samuelson
Satellite Beach, Fla.
Ayn Marie Samuelson is the author of Exposing the Public Education System.
A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 2011 edition of Education Week as Taming Bureaucracy in Education Institutions