Saturday, September 1, 2007

Getting Involved! “The Beginning of the End? “ or “Making the End a New Beginning?”

Jim's comments below and my other post about certainty and uncertainty have made me want to write again. As we begin the new school year, we realize that this year is going to bring some big changes to education in Maine.

Yesterday, August 31st was the deadline for school districts to file their Letter of Intent of whom they want to merge or “reorganize” as DOE puts it, to form the new Regional School Units or RSUs. From now until the end of 2007, school districts will be forming Regional Planning Committees to help form the governance of the new school districts.

As teachers, we are not supposed to be effected by the process and “business as usual” is supposed to continue in the classroom. As a teacher, I am, and probably many of you are also, concerned about this process and what it will mean to Maine schools. Will schools eventually be closed and combined? Will positions in teaching and other areas be eliminated? Will my school or town be given less resources to work with? Will I be given less or more of a voice in decisions about my school or town?

The doubts lay in the back of my mind about the unpredictable future. Some say we can wait for the future to happen. Others say we can seize the future and make it our own. My own belief is somewhere in the middle. We can influence events and try to make a difference in the short and long term.

This year I urge you to get involved in the process of forming the new school districts in two ways. The first involves helping to form the governance of the new districts. If you are asked to serve on a Regional Planning Committee either as a teacher or a citizen, do it. Try to be sure that the governance model created is fair to both your school and the town that you live in. If you don’t want to serve on a Regional Planning Committee, then try to stay up on events that are going on and be sure to give your input. This is for both the school that you teach in and also the town or school district where you live. We have been given the opportunity to create the new districts and participate in the process. We need to be involved. This is democracy!

The second way to get involved is networking. Getting to know colleagues in the other schools and other districts you may merge with is a good idea. Try to find a person or persons in the other districts that teaches the grade level or subjects that you teach in another school that might be in your new district. These will be people that you will be working with in the future and it may give some new insights into teaching.

The next year or so will be a rocky road for teachers. We can depend on things that are certainties in our lives, but we also can try to influence the future. We can change and influence “the beginning of the end” to “making the end a new beginning!”

Things to Think About:

What do I want to see for my school in the future?

What factors help make a good governance of schools?

Who do I know in another district that does a similar job to mine and how can I get to know them?

What do I like about how my school works? What don’t I like about how my school Works?

Web Resources
Information and links to School Reorganization and Newspaper Stores from All Over Maine! A Great Site

Maine DOE Page on School Reorganization

List of “Letters of Intent” of School Districts that are Discussing Merging
(This is a Microsoft Excel File) As of 8/31/2007. Will be updated next Tuesday.

1 comment:

Joe Makley said...

It looks like I'll be co-chairing one of the consolidation committees dealing with curriculum/instruction and technology. While it's tempting to look at how to slice up the existing pie, I think the most productive course is going to be to design the new system. The new unit is going to call the shots in a very short time, so the most important thing to do is get policy in place (by laws, etc.) to submit to the new board, describing what you want it to look like. At least, I think that's the most pleasant way to approach this rather arduous next year or two. For instance, instead of talking about whose S.I.S. will survive, plan the data warehouse you've always wanted, and get those capabilities into policy.