Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Review: When Teachers Talk by Rosalyn S. Schnall

Principal abuse of power and principal abuse of teachers, which has been clearly documented by teachers in this book, may very well be the most significant underlying cause contributing to the decline of public education in America today. Abusive and incompetent public school administrators who treat teachers with anything less than the dignity and respect they deserve do so at the direct expense of teachers, their student populations, and the communities in which they reside. Throughout the interviews in this book, teachers give detailed accounts of how principals do not provide them with the administrative support needed to effectively teach and maintain discipline in their classrooms. They explain how they have been prevented from functioning optimally and how their best efforts to help their students have been frustrated. The inevitable results are dysfunctional, permissive, non-disciplinary school environments which produce a steady stream of students who leave school and enter mainstream society totally unequipped to take on the responsibilities of functioning adults.

For decades, the widespread condition of principal abuse of power has been hidden from public view. Throughout the book, teachers describe in detail, numerous examples of principal abuses they have personally witnessed and experienced, and how and why the situation remains unrecognized by the general public. Many teachers legitimately fear suffering repercussions for publicly speaking out about the problem. Consequently, parents have been almost completely unaware of its existence and the degree to which it affects their children's education. It is important to again emphasize, that the studies in this book are by no means a condemnation of all principals, and the positive contributions of good administrators have been fully recognized. The teachers who were interviewed for the educational studies in this text freely expressed their feelings regarding both “good” and “bad” principals for whom they had worked. However, the overall negative results of the studies unequivocally indicate that a crisis of major proportions may be present in many public school districts across America.

Received from the publicist for review.

I was initially interested in this book since both my aunt and mom were teachers. I have to say that the stories in the book do represent anomalies. I have never heard stories such as these from any of the teachers I know. Granted, school administrations are just as bad as corporate management at times, but these stories go beyond the average stupidity to downright cruelty.

This one gets two stars. I found it informative, but a bit alarmist. Granted, the stories were shocking, but the experiences in the book cannot simply be extrapolated to other school districts. The author also seems to believe that abuses of power of this magnitude only occur in schools which is hardly true, they're ubiquitous these days. The tiny chapter on good principals was hardly helpful.

☆☆= Didn't Like It


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