Boots on the Ground….
I wasn’t planning on posting a new blog this week, but then Southwest Airlines completely self-destructed and the parallels to education were too obvious to ignore.
Severe weather across the US just before Christmas started the problem. All the airlines had delays and cancellations. But then as all the other airlines were able to get back to full operations relatively quickly, Southwest kept getting worse. The news reports were horrifying: passengers stuck in airports for days, luggage that was moved to another city without its passengers, lines 4+ hours long only to be told they couldn’t get on another flight for a week and no response from Southwest phone centers. How did Southwest, once a darling of the airline industry, get to this point?
I believe there are 2 factors that led to this catastrophic failure: top executives that had no background in operations (they had financial backgrounds) and failure to listen to the flight attendant and pilot unions, groups with the most experience in operations. Both unions raised the alarm to Southwest executives five years ago that the technology used to connect flight crews to planes was outdated and needed to be upgraded. These ”boots on the ground” groups warned Southwest that the system would collapse under stress, but their warnings were ignored. How does this parallel with education?
Like Southwest executives with no operations experience, we have far too many administrators in K-12 education who have little to no experience in the classroom. Yet they are making the decisions on how to best educate students. Teachers, who have their boots on the ground and are the constant in a school are rarely consulted by these administrators when making big decisions. Sound familiar?
There is no question that we have big issues in K-12 education. But to solve them, two things need to happen. The first is that we need administrators who have more experience in the classroom and the second is that we need to listen to the people who best understand the issues and have real solutions- the “boots on the ground” teachers.