Friday, April 10, 2009
Get Rid Of The Good Ol' Girls Network in Education by Akindele Akinyemi
I want to begin by saying I am a staunch supporter of women in leadership. I support women in politics, business and other areas of non-profit, profit and international business. So what I am getting ready to say is not against women at all but is a hard reality that I feel has not been looked at.
In large educational systems like the Detroit Public Schools we have something called a good-ol-girl network. It's a network that is never looked at because we never paid any attention to it. It's set up just like the good-ol-boy network in Corporate and Political America where legal, judicial, social, religious, business, and political associations are among White males.
In Detroit, the good ol' girl network is in education.
There are 786 administrators in Detroit Public Schools. Over 85% are controlled by women.
Most of the principals and teachers in DPS are women.
Even the Detroit Public School Board out of 11 members only 5 are men. The other 6 are women.
The core issue here is not women per se. The core issue is leadership styles. There are many women who I have spoken to in Detroit Public Schools that want more men in the field of education. However, with barriers to receiving teacher certification here in the State of Michigan most men opt out of teaching in K-12 and either stay in corporate America, mentor or teach in higher education.
In a Silver Rights Movement education is not viewed as local but international. Take a look at what is going in Japan at the middle school level. Some subjects, such as Japanese language and mathematics, are coordinated with the elementary curriculum. Others, such as foreign-language study, begin at this level will become a compulsory part of the elementary school curriculum. The junior school curriculum covers Japanese language, social studies, mathematics, science, music, fine arts, health, and physical education. All students are also exposed to industrial arts and homemaking. Moral education and special activities continue to receive attention. Most students also participate in one of a range of school clubs that occupy them until around 6pm most weekdays (including weekends and often before school as well), as part of an effort to address juvenile delinquency.
99% of the principals in Japan are men.
In South Korea, middle school marks a considerable shift from elementary school, with students expected to take studies and school much more seriously. At most middle schools regulation uniforms and haircuts are enforced fairly strictly, and some aspects of students' lives are highly controlled. Like in elementary school, students spend most of the day in the same homeroom classroom with the same classmates; however, students have different teachers for each subject.
Most middle school students take six lessons a day, and in addition to this usually have an early morning block that precedes regular lessons and a seventh lesson specializing in an extra subject to finish the day.
In terms of high school in South Korea 97% of students complete high school requirements for graduation. Most students graduate at age 19.
99% of the principals in South Korea are men.
I do not blame women for taking advantage of an opportunity because American society has historically taught that education was a "female" profession. Now, with the growing number of boys ending up in the penal system there is a need for more men in the field of education. But there is a problem.
Our women do not want to break up their network.
Parents are calling for more men to become teachers because they fear their children lack male role models, research showed yesterday. Demand is even stronger among single mothers, who told the survey their children had little contact with men in caring roles.
So how come this conversation is never brought up in DPS School Board meetings? Because we are not looking at the problem under a microscope. Parents, board members and BAMN are playing politics instead of really looking at the severity of the issue in terms of leadership.
Women cannot raise a boy to be a man. She can only raise him to be an older boy. It will take men to raise boys both in the home and classroom to be men. If we know that then how come we have some women in educational leadership restrict men from being leaders? How come some of these same female educational leaders try to belittle men, hinder their progress and in some cases challenge their manhood right in front of both teachers and students?
A school being ran by full of women is not good. I applaud our female educational leaders who can get the job done but even some of them have come to the conclusion that they are not men. However, some women leaders in education wish to keep the good ol' girl network running strong by using their union power to lobby for educational requirements at the state level to make it discouraging for some to go into the field of education.
For example, most men who are seeking a career change from engineering want to go into K-12 education in math. An alternative teacher certification track should be available in Michigan instead of these men going back to school, taking the basic skills test (a waste of time), core courses that they will never need in life, take a subject area test that has nothing to do with they are preparing to teach. Now mind you, some of these men have a M.S. degrees in engineering which means they can teach the subject better than the person in the classroom. Why should a man be required to student teach when he has been on the job as an engineer for nearly 30 years?
Detroit Public Schools can demand for programs like the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence to recruit more teachers.
We must be able to change the culture of education by creating a gender balance in the equation. Presently, you rarely ever see a male in K-2 grades as the lead teacher. We simply need more Black men in education without the good ol' girl network blocking progress.
And its not just a local issue. In London, England 80% of excluded boys from public schools are Black. The schools over there are even requesting more Black men to come into education to be role models for young Black males.
In Chicago, for example, there are about 75 Black males for every Black male teacher in elementary schools and 29 Black males for every Black male high school teacher.
For the most part, the only male teachers you find in elementary and middle schools "are gym teachers and shop teachers.
While most Black men look at education as a female dominated profession it does not have to be this way. First, Black men need to get out of their heads the stereotypes of education. Second, Black men need to take their place in the community as leaders and not followers. Third, realize that presently there are more Black men in jail than college. That alone should spur you to do what is right.
As far as women in educational leadership if they can ban to protest the opening of more charter schools in Detroit (like the Detroit Federation of Teachers did in 2003) they can shut the Detroit Public School system down and demand more men in the educational field. Women in educational leadership can actually use their influence in DPS to open the doors for more men to enter the educational field. However, this network is not built like that.
I'm sorry but one of the main factors of a failing school goes back to leadership style. If you have a women that is a principal and she is more interested in gossip and backbiting than academics then that school is going to fail. If you think I'm joking look at the list of schools that are closing below in Detroit Public Schools.
Principal: Deborah Manciel
Principal: Anthony Jones
Principal: Donna Thornton
Principal: Janet Glenn
5. Cody 9th Grade
Principal: Gabriela Gui
Principal: Alvin Wood
Principal: Yvette Pinchem-Stewart
Principal: Walter Stokely
9. Detroit Open
Principal: Philp VanHooks
Principal: Jacqueline Ensley
Principal: Debra Kelly-McGill
Principal: Cecelia Muhammad
Principal: Diane Goins
14. J.R. King
Principal: Vivian Hughes
Principal: Cecily Wilson
Principal: Willie Trotter
17. Marshall, John.
Principal: Cleo Moody
Principal: John White
19. Northwest ECC
Principal: Nyote Mobley-Strong
Principal: Desheil Nichols
Principal: Cynthia Watt
22. Mark Twain
Principal: Margaret Scales
23. Westside Multicultural
Principal: Ivezaj Frano
Let's put this in context. Out of the 23 DPS school that are closing only 6 are men who are principals.
Now let's say if no schools were closing this year in DPS. Out of 33 DPS high schools only 8 are men in principal roles. Out of 16 middle schools in DPS only 4 middle schools are ran by men. And the good ol' girl network is silent because they don't want to work together with our men and do not want to lose power.
Since the good ol' girl network in areas like Detroit Public Schools do not realize that they are doing more damage than good with our boys take a look at the following statistics.
1. DPS has a 24% graduation rate.
2. 10% of the population in Detroit have a 4 year degree.
3. 4% of the population in Detroit have a graduate or professional degree.
4. Unemployment is at 25% in Detroit.
5. Child poverty is 15% in Detroit.
6. 80% of single families where boys are raised in Detroit are headed by single parents (mostly women).
Now if a boy is raised by his mother and then go to school and feminine techniques and qualities are reinforced in the classroom/school by the female educational leader what makes you think this boy is going to grow up and be a real man? Something to think about.
The real solution to the good ol' girl network is pushing for diversity in the classroom and educational leadership. We have to get out of the 19th century way of doing educational business in Detroit Public Schools. A person who has a mastery of business should not have to start his career in the classroom and work his way up to the front office when he already has a MBA and have been in the field of financial markets for 10 or more years. The excuse that our women in educational leadership is "he does not have any educational experience" or " he is not certified to be in the classroom." Who said anything about the classroom? The Michigan School Code specifically points out that a teacher must be certified in the subject area that he/she is teaching. It does not say you HAVE to be certified in administration. Administrative certification is voluntary in the State of Michigan and even though some districts ask for it it is not a mandate. Another game women play in the good ol' girl network to keep qualified Black men from changing the status quo.
If Detroit Public Schools want to survive it's leadership must change. The good ol' girls network has done enough damage to our educational system in DPS and its time for men to take their leadership roles seriously in education. This means kicking BAMN out of DPS school board meetings, replacing people like Marie Thornton on the school board, and creating a silver rights revolution by replacing the women in the good ol' network with solid men and women of all races and diverse thought to create an academic system that will be on par with Japan, China and Nigeria. The good ol' girls have infiltrated in every part of education. From the teacher unions to the instructional aide it's time for men to lead the way for once.
If we do not take charge, especially Black men in education, this network will continue to pacify, pamper and destroy our Black boys in urban education.