Many of us outside of the schools are completely unaware of how often administrators in America’s public schools have their sleep interrupted by the burning issues that they needed to address during the day. Anything from persistent worries regarding their students or the community as a whole take their toll on that dearly needed and deserved good night’s sleep.
Most agree that over the past twenty years or so two trends, often at odds with each other, have grown, showing no sign of abating. While the responsibilities of our school principals have mushroomed, the centrality of their role in the success of their students and consequently the nation as a whole has deepened as well.
What’s Inside a Principal’s Heart?
A nagging question in many our principals’ minds is whether or not the schools can meet the constantly shifting challenges of providing their students with the requisite tools and skills so necessary to survive and thrive in our rapidly evolving society and economy. In their heart of hearts, principals realize that “the buck stops at the doors of the school.”
Many education analysts see the significant shift away from the federal mandate of “No Child Left Behind” as very positive. In its place is a greater emphasis on deeper more meaningful learning. Traditional math and reading instruction have been replaced with curriculum and programming devoted to career and college readiness in many classrooms.
No Child Left Behind’s True Legacy
That said, “No Child Left Behind” has left a potent legacy. It has reminded us that “all students” means all. These analysts believe that If nothing else is salvaged from that unfortunate albeit well-intentioned mandate, it is that principals have the moral and educational responsibility to help every child regardless of their seeming “potential” or academic ability.
Practically speaking this means that every school head must sincerely believe in the potential of every child under his/her watch, and consequently do the utmost to reach out and provide every kid whatever it takes to teach, support and provides for their needs. This would of course include those with special needs such as children who require speech therapy.
Notwithstanding any of their disagreements regarding educational philosophy, standards, curriculum, methodologies, the principals of today acknowledge that the hapless victims of continuing these wars rooted in ideological perspectives will be the students and their families- the ones who are praying that someone does what is necessary to secure their future.
Speech Therapy and the Truly Wonderful Principal
In fact, in our current reality, it is those administrators who show their compassion, wisdom, and courage by attending to those students from marginalized communities, or those in need of special services which are the real heroes. By regarding it as unacceptable to ignore a child needing special services such as speech therapy, the principal is showing real leadership.
So, how can those heroic principals get a better night’s sleep? By striking the careful, and sometimes elusive balance between upholding high standards of learning while simultaneously ensuring that the needs of every child are met. And that means that those who require special services such as speech or mental health therapy receive it and be given a chance to thrive.