What the House and Senate Could Learn from Teacher and Principal Standards

Ever wonder how standards used to define and evaluate the quality of teaching and instructional leadership might look like if applied to our politicians in Washington? This is not a dig on DC politicians, as tempting as it may be in our current state of affairs. Rather, this is an opportunity to showcase the value of the New York State Teaching Standards (NYTS) and the Educational Leadership Policy Standards (ISSLC) in defining professional practice. I wonder how congress and the senate might be evaluated against such standards.

Take for example NYTS One: Teachers acquire knowledge of each student, and demonstrate knowledge of student development and learning to promote achievement for all students. How might things be different if our friends in Washington took time to understand and promote the needs of all their constituents? Hmmm.  Or, what about NYTS Two: Teachers know the content they are responsible for teaching, and plan instruction that ensures growth and achievement for all students. Would we be in shutdown mode, hurtling towards the fiscal cliff if the senate and congress knew all the facts and assumed responsibility for legislation that ensured the growth and achievement for all constituents? Standard Four is particularly relevant given Washington gridlock: Teachers work with all students to create a dynamic learning environment that supports achievement and growth. Last but not least, Standard Six speaks to what is desperately needed: Teachers demonstrate professional responsibility and engage relevant stakeholders to maximize student growth, development, and learning. 

The relevance of the ISLLC standards are equal to those of teacher standards. In fact, given the leadership aspect inherent in all six ISLLC Standards, they are particularly applicable to Washingtonians.

  • Standard One: An education leader promotes the success of every student by facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by all stakeholders. 
  • Standard Two: An education leader promotes the success of every student by advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth. 
  • Standard Three: An education leader promotes the success of every student by ensuring management of the organization, operation, and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment. 
  • Standard Four:  An education leader promotes the success of every student by collaborating with faculty and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources. 
  • Standard Five: An education leader promotes the success of every student by acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner. 
  • Standard Six: An education leader promotes the success of every student by understanding, responding to, and influencing the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context. 

Presently, my favorite is ISLLC Standard Five. Whenever one seeks to promote the success of others by acting ethically with integrity, fairness, the outcome is most often a good one.

Much like educators and school principals, elected officials work to serve others, particularly when the going gets tough. In the words of Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” To those who were elected to serve our country: Let’s have a good outcome and end this government shutdown, extend the debt limit, and begin serious and responsible discussions on improving our great nation’s balance sheet. And if you need standards to guide your work, consider those that define quality teaching and principal leadership.


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