Accountability Part 1: “Who Me?”

The keynote speaker had just finished a great presentation on the importance of transforming our schools. The talk was inspirational and had clearly resonated with the audience. A few of us lingered to talk about what actions we could take to bring this vision of the future into being. A director of technology sitting at our table complained about her principal being the obstacle to transforming education at the high school.

“All he cares about is test scores. He doesn’t care about technology at all. If he doesn’t change his attitude everything will be status quo. He’s set in his ways and there is no way he is going to change”. She was dead sure she had identified the culprit that was the obstacle to educational transformation.

“So what are you going to do?” I asked.

“I don’t know, it’s tough because…” and again she launched into the same description of the high school principal as disinterested in anything but test scores and college acceptances.

She had a strong belief that this principal would never change. I could feel her frustration and sense of powerlessness. I also noticed that she had settled into a comfortable pattern; complaining about the problem, declaring it impossible to fix, and living with the status quo.

I pushed a little further, “If what you say is accurate, who is responsible for dealing with him?”

She contorted her face, clearly uncomfortable with the question, “I guess the Assistant Superintendent, or the Superintendent.”

I asked her straight out, “How about you? Are you accountable?”

Her response was automatic and definitive, “No! How can I be accountable for how the principal behaves?”

The conversation broke off and we departed amid an uncomfortable silence.

It is here, at this critical juncture, that we, in ed tech, fail ourselves so often. We see clearly what is lacking in others and what needs to be changed, and yet are blind to our own accountability. When we refrain from pointing out the failures of others and embrace our own accountability, we are shedding the role of victim, and stepping into our own power.

True, there is no guarantee that we will succeed. Yes, sometimes it’s just easier to ignore the problem, there are plenty of things to keep us busy. Yes, it would be great if we had an inspirational leader like Martin Luther King Jr. to lead us… to have a dream that we could follow…

…but we also need the Rosa Parks of the world to take action.

If we, who understand the value of technology in learning, don’t take action, then who will? If we are going to move beyond the educational technology status quo, each of us must step into our own greatness, no matter our title, no matter our role.

We do this, not for ourselves; but for a generation of children that look to us for leadership and change.


Inspired by Susan Ohanian’s post:
Defend Democracy: A $71.40 plan to Stop NCLB

Will Richardson’s post:
Owning the Teaching…and the Learning

David Jakes post:
The Blame Game

5 thoughts on “Accountability Part 1: “Who Me?”

  1. Pingback: EdBloggerNews
  2. Peter,
    your leadership in the area of instructional technology has allowed us to create a vision for instructional technology that will ready our students to compete in this complex world. Thanks to you and your team, and the work you have done with our leadership team over the past four years, the Port Chester Rye UFSD Board of Education adopted our five year instructional technology plan on December 14, 2006. Using your design and planning process, the plan, which mirrors the National Ed.Tech Plan, exeplifies excellence in the area of instructional technology. It is aligned to our instructional goals, our mission and vision for the district, and is infact the thread which ties our District plan together in a cohesive and meaningful way. The process you designed has created a tech plan which is owned by our tech committee members and school principals. We are looking towards the future to fullfill our educational mission via our ed. tech vision: to provide every student with a computer device and connectivity to enable them to access a full range of educational technology tools and opportunities; to provide additional learning opportunities that can be accessed anytime and anywhere; create an educational environment that has seamless access to assessment tools and data that will improve teaching and learning; to improve teaching and learning; all of our special populations including english language learners and newcomers to this country, by increasing outreach to parents, the community, the world. As we implement phase I of the plan, we have workgroups, led by our school principals, planning for a 1:1 computing project at the high school and implementing video conferencing programs at the middle school and high school for students to participate in virtual field trips, share course content and for teachers to participate in and offer professional development opportunities. We are hopeful that in a very short time, our middle school and high school will both be wireless environments. We are piloting with you new tools for enhanced support of our hardware and we are looking at all of the pillars of the National Ed Tech Plan including strengthening leadership, considering innovative budgeting, improving teacher training, supporting e-learning, encouraging broad band access, moving towards digital content and improving data systems. Again, in partnership with you and the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, we are poised to ensure the success of the children of the Port Chester Rye Union Free School District. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s