At the end of the year we bid adieu to Bobbie Kavanaugh, a principal who welcomed our son with open arms to McKinley Elementary School. Kavanaugh is an old-school principal. She treats us like family and knows the needs of our son do not always fit with the regimented, standardized education that is the hallmark of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now Common Core, which rushes children to develop whether they are ready or not.
Now the search for a principal to replace her seems a little rushed too. Of course the principal must hold a valid administrative credential as well as a teaching or services credential — that much is required by California Education Code. But beyond the basics, what makes a competent, compassionate leader seems to be up to a select few, representatives of stakeholders the district handpicks, whose decision the district can override.
As a parent, I feel shut out of the selection process. As a teacher for over 30 years, I am wary when the district limits my input to a few words charted on butcher paper at a PTA meeting. Any educator can tell you what happens to butcher paper: it gets thrown away.
So can I only hope that an elite team makes the right decision about my son’s future? Can I only pray that our new principal knows that law gives final say to decisions about children to their parents, not technocrats who care more about data than kids? No, I can and must fight for my son’s educational rights every inch of the way.