Open Letter to the Murphy Administration


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Open Letter to the Murphy Administration

  1. 1. March 31, 2010 The Murphy Community Group at Facebook became aware that the Murphy School District staff received a letter regarding the budget. Based on reliable sources, some staff members will be receiving an additional letter regarding non-renewal contract and some of them will be getting a Reduce in Force (RIF) letter. We think that in order to make things fair, the MSD administrators should be the ones getting the non-renewal letter. After all, the entire district is in corrective action and many staff members believe that part of the blame of this turmoil is due to poor administration. The MSD Governing board is accelerating change. Leadership is always about change. Change is essential to succeed and sometimes induces fear in us all: fear of the unknown, of failure, of not being needed in a new order of things. We live in a fast- moving world and increasingly find ourselves inundated with issues that are complex and uncertainties. The MSD administration has to develop the capacity to identify trends and deal with potential problems before they adversely affect the lives of the people they serve. MSD administration also needs to build up networks of stakeholders for resolving longer-term issues, leveraging the power of collective thinking and acting in alignment with a shared vision. The prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-respected, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning and teaching. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers –-a prize for the best Halloween costume, grades in school, gold stars—and on up through the university. On the job, teachers, grade levels and schools are ranked, reward for the top, punishment for the bottom. The MSD is going through a time of dramatically conflicting forces. Things are getting better and things are getting worse. Many things indicate that MSD is going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble. We believe that, the prevailing system of management at MSD is, at its core, dedicated to mediocrity. It forces people to work harder and harder to compensate for failing to tap the spirit and collective intelligence that characterizes working together at their best. MSD schools are caught up in the pressures to preserve a traditional system that finds itself under increasingly investigations, stress, underperforming and unable to innovate. One key in this shift will be accepting that innovations needed in education represent a bigger task than educators can accomplish working in isolation. The organizations that will truly excel in the future will be the organizations that discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels. As you learn, grow, and tackle more systemic challenges, things do not get easier. This, then, is the basic meaning of a learning organization: an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future.
  2. 2. In most schools that fail, there is abundant evidence in advance that the school is in trouble. This evidence goes unheeded, however, even when administrators are aware of it. The district as a whole cannot recognize impending threats, understand the implications of those threats, or come up with alternatives. In effective schools, what it means to be a competent principal is to be able to solve problems—to figure out what needs to be done, and enlist whatever support is needed to get results. When people focus only on their positions, they have little sense of responsibility for the results produced when all positions interact. Moreover, when results are disappointing, it can very difficult to know why. All you can do is assume that someone screwed up. But more often than we realize, schools cause their own crisis, not external forces or individuals’ mistakes. MSD has a very long way to go to being able to have the types of open, productive discussion about critical issues that all desire. This leads to discovering that there is more than one way to look at complex issues and it would help enormously in breaking down the walls between different ways of thinking. MSD schools are paralyzed. Overstressed teachers and administrators try to fend off pressures from the state and fearful parents. Yet we all know the education for the twenty-first century must change profoundly from education for the nineteen and twentieth century. This requires space for innovation, not just pressures for performance. Students feel this acutely. They know they need to grow up as citizens of the world. They need to understand the world’s problems and they need to know how to work productively on them. Schools that fail to address these needs will be increasingly marginalized and irrelevant for kids. What has been developing for years cannot be reversed in few months. Nor is there any basis of being optimistic that the new will steadily supplant the old. Nevertheless, powerful forces for change are also at play: the Internet and Facebook are breaking down traditional information monopolies. Increasingly networked organizations cannot be controlled from the top. In a working environment dominated by fragmentation, polarization, and distrust, the best leaders will be those with practical experience in the power of reflective conversations and an understanding of how transformative relationships can solve complex problems. The idea of leaders who serve those they lead may seem idealistic, but we are convinced it is also pragmatic. It has been shown again and again in combat that when people's lives are at stake, they will only reliably follow commanding officers who they trust, who they perceive as having their well-being hart. MSD administrators, please remember the unpleasant consequences of trying to steal a bottle of wine from a store. Now, imagine the consequences for depriving children to reach their dreams? We the Facebook community will make you accountable. Advocating for the future of the Murphy Community, The Murphy Community Group Find us on Facebook - Murphy District