Open Letter to the Murphy AdministrationDocument Transcript
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
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
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
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.
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
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