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Guest blog: Good management v. bad management

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Welcome to the guest blogger section of the Notebook blog.

This week's post is from Alan Kaman, a pseudonym for a teacher and frequent Notebook blog commenter.


What separates good organizations from bad organizations is how problems are dealt with. In a good organization a problem is seen as opportunity to correct and improve an existing situation. Colleagues work together to analyze what happened that negatively affected the system, what can be done to prevent it from happening again, and whether or not proper actions were taken and how these actions could be improved.

In a bad organization an individual is sought so blame can be placed. If something unusual happens, it’s someone’s fault, not an error in the system. In a bad organization when someone steps up to help, they risk being blamed.

The School District of Philadelphia is an extreme example of bad management.

Not only do they seek to hold their line to blame for all their problems, they don’t even address the needs of children. In a city where the University of Pennsylvania believes that extremely large numbers of young people suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, this school district focuses on test scores and scores only. The mental health of a child is not important. The problem is mental health affects academic health.  Dr. Joseph Marshall of San Francisco put it best: “You can’t get the academics in until the emotions get out.”

In badly managed organizations ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away, it only makes you look for someone to blame.

Dr. Ackerman should beware that we teachers are tired of being blamed and we won’t accept it any longer. I hope and trust the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers understands this and has put it into their contract negotiations.

The president has made it clear he wants reform in conjunction with the teachers’ unions, not done to the teachers unions. Perhaps this belief in distributive leadership, something Dr. Ackerman claims to believe in, will prevent her from fingering the nuclear button as she has threatened to do. She can learn something from Obama who recently warned the North Koreans you can’t accomplish your goals with threats. Management by threats is bad management. What will Dr. Ackerman do with a union which is pledged to collective bargaining and has not lost a day of work to a strike in over 20 years? Will she exercise bad management, or good leadership?


The guest blog section is a place for people, other than our regular cast of bloggers, to share their views. (See our "About Our Blog" note at the top, right.) Got something you'd like to write about? Email us with a pitch, idea, or a completed post. We're just launching this feature so feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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