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community organizer vs. gov’t administrator September 4, 2008

Filed under: Education,Uncategorized — Ms.M @ 11:39 am

The truth is I get really sucked in to all this present political theater. As much as I don’t want to include any talk of politics on this blog, the thoughts are just too present for me to ignore. I’m starting to see many parallels between politics and the tug of war happening in school systems. It’s times like these that I remember that schools are a government entity after all.

I was thinking last night about the role of “community organizers.” If I was a community organizer at this point, I would be pretty upset about how republicans are so openly bashing everything I do and stand for. Sarah Palin’s commentary about the leadership lacking in the job were mind-boggling.  I don’t even think anyone is stopping to even wonder what a community organizer even does and how varied that particular role can be, depending on a wide variety of circumstances.

But anyway, I was thinking that the main role of community organizers is to empower and educate people so that they can make changes happen in their communities that best meet their needs through their collective voice and action (Last I checked, that was called democracy).  It is not one of those roles where someone comes in and says this is what I’m going to change FOR you. It respects that people will and can think and act for themselves. In that sense it is a leadership role, though it’s a very different from what most people think of when they think of leadership. It’s a bottom up leadership, not a trickle down leadership (someone on top making the decisions for everyone else).

Last night, republicans praised the leader who stands at the top of the pile, and denigrated the leader who stands with and for people.

How does this compare to schools. Easy. There are those who work in schools who believe that the role of a teacher is to empower students to become independent learners, and then there are those who believe that the role of a teacher is to control every aspect of a student’s education every day.  At the same time, there are administrators and school systems that believe in the capacity of their teachers to be creative professionals, and there are those that feel that administrators should have a greater say in what schools are doing ever day. Sage on the stage vs. guide on the side. Community organizer vs. administrator.

As long as we continue to think that true leaders only take control at the top, or at the front of the pack, the less likely that school reform will ever happen. As long as we think that political leaders only take control at the top, the less likely that political reform will ever happen. I realized how similar are the messages in both circumstances, and how divided are the people about what it takes to make relevant change happen.


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