As I continue my journey toward my Master’s in Education Leadership, last Wednesday began my school finance section of the adventure. While this program has taken me through a few pretty disastrous courses, there have been some outstanding ones as well: Supervision and Leadership with Dan Major, School Law with Dr. Pat Pauken, and now, hopefully, School Finance with Dr. Paul Johnson.
Although the traditions of “syllabus night” held true (early dismissal!), we did begin with some reflective dialoge concerning where school finance issues stand today and why this is an incredible time to be taking the course in Ohio. With a new governor (and friends) taking the lead, we’re likely to witness some major transformations in school finance approaches, procedures, and laws. The challenge will be keeping a room of nine passionate individuals on an apolitical and productive approach to the topic.
Much like my law course, this class appears to be one taught by an individual who is downright passionate about the topic. I’m sure he’s knowledgable and experienced as well, but it is the passion that is presented during each class session that really makes the experience worthwhile. As an interesting pre-administrator reflection, I found one of his introductory comments absorbing. While explaining his resume, including time as a building-level and district-level administrator, he explained that he has always just asked his staff members for two things: 1. Teach kids in a way that they will learn. And if you’re not in a teaching position, support teachers so that they can teach in a way that kids will learn. 2. Treat others well. While these are simple and broad expectations, they are also wholly encompassing. Just something interesting to keep in mind as I prepare for a principalship.
Finally, I walked away from the first class with a few quotes that may bring a nod to your head or a smile to your face:
“School Finance is not a math class; it’s political science.”
“There are only two kinds of school districts in Ohio: those that are on the ballot and those that will be.”
“Don’t watch sausage or laws being made; You’ll lose your appetite for both.”
“The study of School Finance is like a Russian novel; It’s long and boring and in the end, everybody dies.”
I’m excited for the course!