Friday, February 11, 2011

Democratic Centralism?

I'm giving away my old Soviet politics/Cold War academic background to call our staff meetings at school 'democratic centralism without the Leninism.'

Communist parties often run along democratic centralist lines. Elections are supposed to select the leadership of a rigid hierarchy that really makes policy...without too terribly much input from the electorate. It's more centralism than democratic.

So, why are our staff meetings like this?

Today, we met to give our wish lists for school schedule parameters. The discussion is complicated by at least two important realities. First, preferences diverge. More than once someone suggested one thing (common grade level planning time, for instance) only to have someone else say their group didn't want that. One group finally just said we want 'this' and 'not this,' both.

Second, the sets of issues that we're considering are not of the same order. Whether we have a common planning time may not have anything to do with avoiding multi-grade teaching responsibilities. In such a situation, the preferences are particularly difficult to rank, as we (or at least, I) have difficulty comparing them.

Such is the nature of 'democratic' discussion.

So, ultimately, the district leadership will take a significant role in the whole thing. Thus, the centralism part.

As long as it's evidence-driven research-based best practices of what's good for kids we'll be fine.

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