Monday, August 18, 2008

Control? What Control?

Another of the refrains that was in the post from a few weeks ago and that seems to come back time and time again is the fact that a certain number of people (10% according to Denise, 15-20% by the survey last year) are not happy with their “loss of control.” It is a good buzz phrase, as it trips off the tongue nicely, but what does it mean?

It is another one of those phrases that as soon as one pushes back, the answers seem to disappear into nonsense. What things were “controlled” by parents last year? Were there curriculum issues that some secret cabal dictated? What issues that have been brought up were about a loss of this hypothetical control?

At best, one could stretch the concept and say that those people who contributed their time and talent in the past and are not welcome in these areas miss the “control” of helping paint, donating some food, or planting some bulbs. I am not sure who or what the control was over, or who were the "controlling" people. Can someone here help educate us ignorant 10%?


Anonymous said...

I've addressed this before--The crux of true leadership isn't "control", its motivating those around you to share your goals--fostering commonality of purpose. If "control" is to be discussed in relation to children, then parents--both legally and morally--have the ultimate "control" in deciding how the child should be educated.

A responsible and effective educator understands and appreciates this fundamental reality: that the education of children is a partnership between a faculty and parents. No matter how inconvenient it may seem, a true leader takes into account the validity of this partnership and to the degree possible responds in a positive way to parental concerns.

Contrary to some who suggest that expressing concern and disagreement is "whining"--the opposite is actually the case. No one in a leadership position who truly understands how to lead should resent challenges or try to limit dialogue--because an individual who knows how to lead recognizes that communication is the key to fostering a consensus and getting other to move toward the goal that is established by the leader.

Holy Cross is not the principal's school to "control"--it is the parish's school and is indeed the parents' school. The fundamental problem with the present principal is that she is not a leader--sole and exclusive reliance on the authority of a person's position is in the long run an inadequate basis to effectively "lead" an organization.

That is why her continued presence at Holy Cross will lead to its dimunition as an effective educational institution.

Additionally, her leadership style is not simply abrasive--it is un-Christian--an over time will corrode both the morale of the faculty and the desire of parents to entrust their children to the school.

TruthSeeker said...

I don't believe it's an issue of "control" that have so many parents up in arms. I believe it's an issue of right vs wrong (in "sinners' words", good vs evil). The idea that a "loss of control" is the root of the overwhelming dissatisfaction of parents and faculty is absolutely ludicrous. You are's a hypothetical buzz phrase with no substance. I cannot accept that explanation which has been thrown out by several levels of the administration.
There have been so many "wrongs" committed and most people I speak with can't pinpoint "rights".

Grumpy said...

Bravo, Anonymous - I could not have put it better myself. There have been no "goals" expressed so it makes sense that there cannot be a commonality of purpose. Any partnership between parents and faculty members was threatened and destroyed early on. Parental concerns are repeatedly dismissed as "trivial" whining and you are absolutely right in that there can be no move towards goals. Many hearts break for the faculty that have chosen to return because human beings do not deserve the treatment they receive. In the eyes of many dedicated, committed and wonderful people, there is a "stepford wife stare" indicating a partial destruction of their souls. We must pray for their strength during these trying times. Not many people can continue to function effectively in an intimidating, threatening atmosphere. I, too, believe that parents will make different educational decisions for their children if there is not some positive remedy soon.

The Quizzinator said...

I think she does have goals, but I think she has a chip on her shoulder to prove that SHE can do it. Good managers know that the best way to get things done is to give it to your talented staff...and if you count the teachers and volunteers who have worked with previous adminstrations, you are talking about a very competent group....but she would have to be able to articulate what she wants, set goals, and get out of the way of people who want to do good. I think she wants to be the one who single-handedly "fixes" HC.

Anonymous said...

"Fix Holy Cross"; That should be your next post. She believes that Holy Cross was broken before she got here. Fixing it entails fundamental changes. Judging from the past waiting list and enrollment, there are a large number of people who where pretty satisfied with the way things were.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to the posts on this particular topic, leadership is not consensus building. Running the day-to-day operations of a school in particular is the furthest thing in the world from running a customer-friendly retail store.

The Principal's job is to provide an environment that is focused on student achievement which includes intellectual,social and emotional growth.

The "business" of education, particularly Catholic Education is to foster Faith and independent thinking. The best that we as parents can do for our kids is to support the teachers and the administration in this daunting task.

Control what you can at home. Teach your kids to be responsible with their words and respectful of authority. But give your kids a true opportunity to be independent. Come out from behind your anonymity and demonstrate to your children what courage and change are all about!!

Anonymous said...

I think it is extremely sad that those who support the principal Denise and her wrongdoings haven't a clue to what is going on around the school. Open your eyes people and listen with your ears. For heaven's sake, you are paying for respect, communication, as well as many other things. If the suporting posters on this site have half a brain, they would know the failures that have occurred. HOPEfully, this school year will be drastically different from the previous. When I think of it - OUCH!!!!!! You say that she is doing great things - WHAT THE HECK ARE THEY??????

Anonymous said...

The real question is "what has she done wrong?" My guess is that no one doing the anonymous complaining could live by the standard that this blog wants to hold Mrs. J to...

Anonymous said...

What has she done wrong? She has been very rude to some teachers and parents. What happened to some of the good things like the teacher wish list? Why was that taken away? And from what I've read on this site, she told parents that the internet filter was fixed and it wasn't.

Anonymous said...

Since you asked--here's a partial list:
1. Abrupt and demeaning demeanor that closes off any meaningful communication with parents or faculty;
2. Forcing all faculty to communicate with parents through her--now mind you, this includes to some degree discussion of their children ABOUT their children;
3. Documenting in permanent faculty records as "insubordination" any honest effort by some faculty members to provide advice (based on their experience) which has led to a "hunkered down" mentality by these faculty;
4. Publically ridiculing the Art Instructor by ignoring her and letting it be known, through others, that she would be fired. (While it may be legitimate to think that faculty member should "move on", the manner this was done to one who was part of the institution for so long was more than un-Christian, it was cruel and mean);
5. Holding faculty responsible for "rules" that absolutely no one knows about.

Another on this page wrote:
"The Principal's job is to provide an environment that is focused on student achievement which includes intellectual,social and emotional growth.

The "business" of education, particularly Catholic Education is to foster Faith and independent thinking."
You'll get no argument on these points. However, the "provision" of the environment and the "fostering" of faith requires one who demonstrates the capacity to lead others toward those goals. That's the point--she doesn't.

Telling people what to do, humiliating people who have a long history at HC, and failing to demonstrate basic competence in human interaction is not leadership.

Only the most insecure person, one who really does not have the capacity to "foster" a POSITIVE "environment"--manages by showing contempt for that which was inherited. NOt only is this approach poor managment practice, it is really the exact opposite of true leadership. Rather than the focus being on BUILDING something positive, it is focused on destroying that which the person views as needing "fixed."

With all due respect, the issue in regard to this person isn't her POSITION, or the ROLE of principal--its her ABILITY to lead--and while the ROLE of a manager of a department store and the ROLE of a principal in a (supposedly) Christ-based educational institution are different, the leadership styles and skill sets are not. One is either a "positive" leader--(fostering a positive environment), a "negative" leader (associated with an abrasive "my way or the highway" type of personality) or not a leader at all (passive bystanders--like the pastor).

While in some circumstances the negative leadership style may actually be effective in the short run (depending on other factors), over time "ruling through fear" will result in long term ineffectiveness and destructiveness to both the organization and those involved in it.

Holy Cross is on that path, and while some may feel that bowing to authority--no matter how arbitrary and mean--is "supporting the school"--I'd like to think that hopeful prayer combined with accurate, honest and constructive criticism (something that she has not provided to others) is actually the most responsible course for salvaging what will ultimately be a very different kind of school.

Continued and consistent criticism, including repeated engagement with the pastor and the Diocese will over time get results.

TruthSeeker said...

Anonymous - I agree with a lot of of what you have expressed here, except for the following: "Continued and consistent criticism, including repeated engagement with the pastor and the Diocese will over time get results." I personally know of an individual who contacted the Diocese with many concerns last fall and asked them to look into the issues. It was acknowledged that he/she was a truly concerned parent and parishioner. The concerns expressed to the Diocese were a result of a face-to-face meeting with the Pastor. In February, he/she was called in to a meeting with the pastor and principal regarding the contact with the diocese several months before and questioned as to why there was a desire for the child(ren) to return to HC. In order for the child(ren)'s registration to be accepted, he/she had to APOLOGIZE for expressing concerns and promise to not contact the diocese but address future concerns to the principal. The behavior (contacting the Diocese with concerns) was called "Un-Catholic" by the pastor. I also believe that one concern (about teachers not being allowed to order things that they needed) was responded to with "if more money is spent on teachers having excess supplies that will lead to a decrease in the amount of financial aid". Later, there were some problems with that family's financial aid award (it did not happen) and that family is no longer part of Holy Cross school or parish. That's one example that I know of personally. Fear of retribution against students for parents expressing concern leads to some being quiet. As parents, we choose to send our children to HC for many different reasons and it is sad to know that some children are being denied the opportunities that their parents want them to have because of expressing concerns and criticisms. The issues still exist but how many people are willing to jeopardize the education of their children by speaking out?

The Quizzinator said...

Just so we are clear...could anyone come up with ANYTHING that ANY group of parents lost control of when Denise came here?

Grumpy said...

The only thing that comes to mind which may be considered "parental control" was the requests that were made last summer as to specific teacher assignments. I was impressed when I heard that the principal would not honor these requests because I thought that was a fair response and seemed to be consistent across the board. However, I cannot think of any other areas where parents expressed a desire to control anything. Unless you want to take into account the Teacher Wish Lists which parents liked and Teacher Appreciation week.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that the PTO didn't ask for help with teacher appreciation week this year?

Anonymous said...

Teacher Appreciation Week?????

Sorry Teachers!