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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Agents of Change/Agents of the Status Quo

Time to Leave the Status Quo Behind

Some people have asked me why I am even bothering to support Dr. Porter at all. Of course, I advocate that Dr. Porter and the Board come to a mutual reconciliation that will certainly involve some form of reprimand and payback. This I term atonement.

But this does not answer the question as to why I feel it would be a mistake to fire Dr. Porter. This very issue was discuss at our last meeting of the officers of the American Federation of Teachers, my union. We came up with 3 main strengths we feel Dr. Porter has:

1. He has sought the advice of teachers. It's funny that this should be so unusual, but this hasn't happened with many past superintendents in our district. Dr. Porter has the radical idea that those who deal with students directly might know something of what is needed in our schools. This may be one reason why certain principals have sided against him. (Interestingly enough, my principal, a very competent leader, is supporting him.)

2. He has gone after incompetent principals. As stated below, he has said that 20 to 25 percent of the principals in our district are not doing their job. He has not minced words about this when dealing the the principals themselves. Neither has he spared teachers, but he is the first we know to publically acknowledge our problems with our principals.

3. Most importantly, Dr. Porter has been an agent of change. Our district must change if it is to get better. We need someone who has the courage to seek change if this is to happen because it hasn't happened with the last few leaders we have had. Change causes pain. Change agents are considered divisive. They gain enemies.

What we are seeing, in my opinion, are the Agents of the Status Quo pushing back against Dr. Porter. They are comfortable with the way things have always been done. They go to work day after day feeling that they are doing their jobs. But they simply keep the routine going. As someone said of them, "They are unaware that they are unaware."

Our message is simple. We have a failed system in our district. We have good teachers and many good principals and administrators, but they are all working within a failed system. Our question is, when will we ever have a chance to get it right if we allow the Agents of the Status Quo defeat the Agents of Change?


jm smith said...

This is exactly were I thought the problem lie. I hope John Q. Porter is able to survive the lies and continue to improve the district.

Anonymous said...

AFT has no business lending it's support to an administrator who has 21 allegations of wrong doing against him, as well as someone who promotes a negative environment in the workplace. AFT should represent the teachers of the district. Until the union takes a vote on where to stand, they need to stand back and let this play out.

Lynn Green said...

What we seek is a reconciliation of the board with Dr. Porter. We want a Win-Win out of this because if one side "loses", we all lose.

OKCPS Teacher said...

So by keeping John Porter and the hostile work environment he creates downtown is a win/win? You support a man who's idea of responsibility is saying "no one told me,"? Is his behavior something our union advocates? Get your head out of the sand! Until you have a vote of the general AFT membership, with a majority in favor of supporting Porter, you have no business speaking for us.

NWCLC said...

I have some issues:
1. "He has sought the advice of teachers." Funny, he hasn't been around my school.

2. "He has gone after incompetent principals." My understanding is that he asked some people at AFT who the bad principals were. Shouldn't he have gone out to the schools, instead of asking an outside entity for advice?

3. "Most importantly, Dr. Porter has been an agent of change."
I am the agent of change in my classroom. I write the grants, I read the research, I go the extra mile. I make my content fresh, and my students are successful. His idea of change is to tear down the few successful programs in the district and start over.

Lynn Green said...

You say that Dr. Porter has been tearing down some of our district's successful programs. If you have specific information on this, I need to know about it. Please send it to me through this blog or by e-mail. Thank you for your response.

nwclc said...

Your AFT president will hear all about it on Monday. Like someone else said, "Get your head out of the sand!"