Riddle Me This Part 2

Who exactly is running public schools?

Fellow AZ blogger extraordinaire, Mike Lee, recently wrote a blog entitled Riddle Me This in which he asks  “Is there another industry where decision-making is dominated by so many without any experience or advanced training in the field? ”  

This inspired me to ask myself one of the biggest riddles that I know in public education. Does anyone know exactly who is running public education? If so, let’s go find a sphinx somewhere out there and see if he’ll reward us with a treasure. It just might be that 6 figure salary that we’ve been dreaming about.

About a month ago, I had an issue with a certain policy pertaining to teacher observations  in my district. I followed the chain of command. I asked my instructional coach. I asked my principal. I e-mailed a leader at our district office. (I did not hear directly back from her but she did answer my question to someone else and they were able to fill me in with her response.) Basically, everyone I asked told me that’s the way things are and that I needed to seek my answer somewhere else. I felt a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I kept going to someone to get my answer and realizing that when I looked behind the curtain, there was another curtain, and another curtain and so one. After following the chain up four links, I was wondering who exactly made up this policy? The district superintendant? The school board? The State Superintendant? The State Legislature? Barrack Obama? Big business? The Wizard of Oz? I’m guessing I could go all the way to the top and they will just tell me that it’s the voters who make the rules for our schools. So I am going to have to continue searching for my answer. Who exactly is running our schools?

In his book, The Art of War, Sun Tzu states “Know your enemy, know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster…” Maybe that’s why I don’t feel like we’re succeding in education. We don’t know ourselves. We don’t know how strong we are and we don’t know who are leaders and supporters are either. And we sure don’t know who are enemies are. All the other battles making news today have the sides clearly drawn. The gays are fighting the National Organization for Marriage. Pro-choicers are fighting pro-lifers. Rebublicans are fighting Democrats. Tea-baggers are fighting common sense. Who are teachers fighting? Our enemies are not so clear. Who is going to be idiotic enough to stand up and say they are against public education? However, in everyone’s efforts to do good and “share” their opinions, we have numerous “allies” who are actually working at cross purposes with education. Thus, we end up fighting hundreds of battles over polices and legislation and we prove Sun Tzi correct. It works out disastrously for us.

Mike and I both had riddles in our blogs. I know how I would like to answer both of them. I’d like a strong teacher who knows the complexity of our profession running our schools and making decisions that pertain to us. I feel like I have a better chance of clicking my heels together three times and traveling to Oz.

Until we get that leader we deserve, it is up to all of us to join into the battle/dialogue and make their voice heard. We no longer have time to sit back and wait for things to shake out. Who knows? Maybe once we all pitch in, it might be as easy as going to a castle and throwing water on some witch.




Donnie Dicus

Donnie Dicus

Tucson, Arizona

My name is Donnie Dicus and I have been teaching in Arizona for 12 years. I came to Arizona from Southern Illinois to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson. I graduated in 2003 and began teaching second grade. I taught second grade in Tucson for 8 years before moving to Phoenix. I now teach third grade. I achieved National Board Certification in 2012 and I received my Master’s Degree from Grand Canyon University in 2015. I achieved a National Board Certificate in Middle Childhood Generalist in 2012. I’ve been teaching mainstream and SEI 3rd grade classrooms in the Cartwright School District in Phoenix since 2013. I taught 2nd grade and was a math interventionist in Tucson in the Amphitheater School District. I’ve been a technology coach and have helped teachers apply technology to improve instruction. I facilitate coaching cohorts for teachers going through the National Board process and organize peer groups at my site to pair new teachers with experienced teachers. In 2010 I was nominated as a Rodel Semi-Finalist for Exemplary teaching in 2010 and featured as a Teacher Leader in February 2016 by the Arizona K12 Center.
I have class pictures of every single student I have taught behind my desk on my wall. After 12 years, that is approximately 350 students. My students know that this is my Wall of Accomplishments. I am so proud of the difference I made in their lives. I became a teacher to make a difference and I strive to do so every day.

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