A new Commissioner will have as much impact on our state ed system as a new meteorologist will have on the weather. We will be told a storm is coming, to buy milk, and stay tuned after to see how badly some were hit in the most underserved areas. Then the new Commissioner will unveil a “new” plan (that will sound identical to the old plan to those paying attention) that will prepare everyone for the next storm.
Commissioners, like meteorologists, predict the future and review the past, while manufacturing chaos in the present. Neither a Commisioner nor a meteorologist can provide relief from heat or shelter from wind. They do not rescue people from floods or those buried in blizzards. They do not remove fallen trees or restore downed electric poles. That happens locally.
New York’s Ed Commissioner has neither closed gaps nor fixed savage inequalities. Some could argue that the districts that needed the most “saving” are now in worse shape.
Meaning for students happens in the classroom because that is where their relationships exist. The work happens in the schoolhouse dealing in real time with real kids with real issues. The push for more data under the guise of “saving failing schools” insults those actually saving their students and their schools from the heat, wind, floods, blizzards, damage and powerlesness they endure before, during, and after their time in the schoolhouse.
We have not seen a Commisioner rise from the schoolhouse and stay to see the job through because the job is not the data. It is the relationships. It is the unmeasurable. It is the humanity that defines education and educators.
The school house is beautiful, messy, spontaneous, and unpredictable because it is built on relationships seeking balance, growth, expression, acceptance, and love. It is only through nurturing relationships that the truth about education is clear. Measurement cannot be more important than health.
A transformational leader, one who cares more about how kids learn than how they are scored, who knows more about how to connect with educators than how to manipulate data, who experienced more in the classroom than on a spreadsheet, could save public education. That person’s CV is not likely on the Regents’ desks.
So, celebrate Elia’s exit if you want. Hope for change if wish. A replacement will come and will share the same forcast; “A storm is coming!” The same promises will be made; “Gaps will be closed, better tests will be created, and all schools will be successful.” Perhaps, new buzzwords will be coined; “Emotional data” for example to appease those calling for more “whole child” focus.
The compassionate, dedicated, and aware educators must continue to love, shelter, and teach in our schoolhouses and never stop advocating for the truth and change that is needed; there is no storm, there are only relationships.
Dr. Anthony Griffin