Here Comes the Aftermath!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Mr. Windchill, May 29, 2008.

  1. Mr. Windchill

    Mr. Windchill Rookie

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    May 29, 2008

    Have you ever made a decision that you were certain would anger students and parents--and not too long after the phone calls start?

    I had the bittersweet privilege of taking over one of the largest, and most active student organizations in the school at the beginning of the semester. Unfortunately, one of the tasks I was to oversee prior to year's end was the election of new officers for next year.

    High school being what it is, the students created more drama than should be possible splitting up into some bitter factions. Due to the fact that the faction with the largest following was trying to nominate students with bad attitudes and lacked taking the program seriously ... and do to a previous bout with poor voting during an extremely serious matter, I opted to appoint the officers myself in the name of doing what is right/best for the chapter.

    Needless to say that I appointed students did not go over so well, without regard to selecting some that leadership wise are perfect for the job, but other students can't stand.

    Well, that's where I am at. I already received a phone call from an irate parent on my cell phone (forgot I gave two students the number on an overnight field trip where I wanted to make sure the students could get a hold of me in case something serious happened). She expects a return, and I will, from school likely with an administrator via speakerphone.

    It's my own doing I suppose. I could have let the elections take place for better or worse and enjoy a less-dramatic ending to the school year.
     
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  3. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    If elections have been a part of that particular organization's way of doing things, then I don't it was the best idea to take over with appointing the officers. It's sad that the popular, irresponsible students were going to be elected, but you can't override the decisions of the students because you don't think those people are appropriate for the positions. It's a democratic process and it's the students who vote...you shouldn't take that away from them.
     
  4. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

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    May 29, 2008

    But, the reason the U.S. is a republic, not a democracy is to prevent the tyranny of the majority that the founding fathers knew all too well. As the sponsor, isn't the teacher responsible for insuring the organization's best interests are always taken into account? Kind of like a school newspaper sponsor preventing a truly trashy gossip piece from being printed under the guise of being a news story?
     
  5. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    But, the president of the US can't just appoint senators because he thinks the citizens will choose the wrong one...

    Sorry OP, but I don't agree with your decision. High school is extremely over dramatic, but it will all work out in the end, and taking matters into your own hands not only undermines the organizations's policies, but tells the students that you don't trust their decisions.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    What happened to letting high school students make their mistakes and learn from them, at least in cases where libel isn't in play? (That, by the way, is the key difference between the case the OP outlines and the case of the school newspaper - not that there aren't school newspaper stories that get squelched inappropriately.)
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    May 30, 2008

    I have to agree with the others that I don't think this was the best choice. I understand that you were only trying to do what's best for the organization, but I think you dropped the ball on this one. At this point, the next question is "how can I fix this?" You're human, just like everybody else, and capable of making mistakes. At least this one was made for a good reason, and not for a malicious reason. Maybe you can redo the whole proccess, but sit them down and give them an earful about what the jobs entail and how they really need to think about who would be best for the jobs and less about who their friends are and yadda yadda yadda. I promise you, if they elect irresponisble members, and the group suffers because of it, you'll have a MUCH better election proccess next year. Good luck.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 30, 2008

    Does this organization have a constitution which outlines the process for electing officers?

    The club I sponsor holds annual elections where the members vote, and the process is described in detail in our constitution. Also in our constitution are guidelines and criteria for removal of officers due to incompetence, dishonesty, apathy, whatever. In the event that an officer is removed, the remaining officers can appoint a replacement.

    Because these directives are specifically outlined in our constitution, there isn't really any room for arguing about it.

    If you don't have a constitution, you need one.
     
  9. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 30, 2008

    I agree with the poster that suggested sitting them down and outlining exactly what the jobs entail, and then have them vote.
     
  10. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    May 30, 2008

    Cassie has made many good points. If your club/organization has by-laws and/or some type of constitution with rules and guidelines for electing officers, you should be prepared for parents, students, admin and possibly even the national organization itself expecting you to following those by-laws. Also, if this is a national or state organization, don't be to surprised if parents call at the national level to complain. I think at this point, you need to be prepared to answers questions to all these groups about why you preceeded to make the changes you made.

    Did you discuss these issues with your principal before making this decision? It probably would have been a good idea to get the support of your principal before making such changes.
     
  11. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    May 30, 2008

    Monday morning Quarterbacking here
    Each student nominated should have 2 to 3 recommendations from teachers that they have or have had in a classroom setting. This incorporates an endorsement into you process. Most kids who have bad attitudes or do not take the program seriously will not get or wont try to get the teacher endorsements.

    Your Heart was in the right place but you need to CYA with a defendable process.

    I have always ran my student organizations as benevolent dictatorships, I always held a veto power "for the good of the organization" and I had that put in the organization's constitution.
    I have seen many teachers lose their jobs over "letting high school students make their mistakes and learn from them,"

     
  12. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Yikes! What is this organization? Do the by-laws allow for you to do this? If so, you are okay in making the decision but these kids need to learn to chew what they bite off. Let them be responsible. Let them work up to high expectations! Bad attitudes continue, probation, then put in an alternate.

    As an advisor you probably should have advised instead of taking over. I must say that I think I'd be ticked if my son was trying to be nominated for one of these positions and you decided to appoint instead. What happens next year? If the kids are good kids then the vote takes place?:down: If not you choose?:down:

    I am sorry you are in this predicament, truly I am. I would admit your mistake...."After further research it has come to my attention that our by-laws state a vote must take place...blah blah."

    Call for a "do-over". :2up:
     
  13. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    May 30, 2008

    Talk to your admin and check the by-laws if there are any. You may have to hold new elections next fall if there isn't time to do so now. I like the suggestions of getting teacher endorsements submitted. I'm not sure how they would figure into an election though. I would definitely make sure the students understand the removal process if they fail to fulfill their officer duties.
     
  14. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    I am not going to slam you for being wrong, or jump for joy over your decision. I am going to offer a possible solution. Tell the student body the relection will take place at the start of the next school year. Then invite the officers from this year and the ones that you just appointed to create a consititution over the summer. When school starts the consitution should be made well known to all students and the nomination process can begin. Then tell those that want to run they need reccomendation letters to get on the ballot. Over all this is a fair solution, creates a permanent level of protection from the same situation from happening again, and if you present this to all the parties involved (including your principal) the right way , that this is a temporary solution until you create a more permament solution via the consitiution.

    I have to tell you this happened to me in high school, I was voted into something I didn't know I was running for. I won, the principal overran it. Why? Because it was a set up to humilitate me in front of the whole school. The only difference is I had a small say in who was chosen instead. No one really knew in the school except about 3 or 4 teachers. The next year, people were nominated, and the votes had to be for those who were nominated only.

    I think you need to use my suggetions, hey tweak them if you need to, and get working on it fast before school is out. It will create a better orgainzation in the future.
     
  15. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    May 31, 2008

    I think you have had some great suggestions for setting up rules for future elections and preventing students from being elected when they shouldn't be. I think that the point of these organizations is to give kids a taste of what it is like in the real world. In an office if you "elect" someone to run campaign or be responsible for an account just because you like them or they are popular you can make a much bigger mess than anything the kids would be allowed to do in HS. They can learn a valuable lesson in being more choosy in this type of situation. I also think that it is possible that some of the kids might have stepped up to the plate in a leadership role. It happens all the time in the classroom - you give a kid a job to do and they suddenly become more responsible in other areas as well.

    I would go with the idea of writing a constitution over the summer with the input of the group.
     
  16. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I would be a parent on your case. Sorry, but just because you don't think that they would make good officers doesn't give you the right to push the students to the side. This momma would be hot and LOUD.
     
  17. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Personally if my kid was "pushed to the side" I'd be asking my kid what he/she had done not to be trusted.
    and My dad would have done the same thing with me.
    The key is don't put yourself in a position where a teacher would have to choose.
     
  18. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I would ask my son what he had done Dave, but behind close doors this teacher would have heard my opinion. I don't bad mouth teachers to my child or other students. But I don't agree with this.

    I am involved in several organizations and if this happened in them, I would drop out.

    My husband is the leader of the largest student organization at our school. His process for officers is simple. Anyone can apply. The students vote ranking their picks from one to whatever. One being President, and so on. Then each officer to be goes in front of a panel of judges that questions them. This panel is made up of leaders from other schools that are in charge of similar groups and business leaders. The panel's vote counts as 60% of the votes and the students counts as 40%. This is done to help take care of the popular friend only vote. 9 out of 10 times, the students vote the same way as the panel. Very rarely does it differ. Since you have to be in 9th going into 10th and older to run for office, this eliminates some of the running just for the heck of it. Next year they are going to implement a plan where before you can run for office you have to earn so many points. Each activity throughout the year will be worth so many points. The sad thing is if that had been done this year, my 8th grader son would have led the point chase but unable to run for office based on the rule about grade level.
     
  19. Mr. Windchill

    Mr. Windchill Rookie

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    Jun 1, 2008

    I appreciate all of the replies, even those who completely disagree with my decision because I understand all sides. The organization does not have a constitution/by-laws, and I have already stressed the importance of creating them for the following school year to prevent this from happening again.

    I struggled to appoint officers, because I do hold the election process sacred. With the scenario I was presented I had two choices: uphold a process I do believe in even though I don't think it will be good for the organization versus do what I felt was in the best interests of the organization even though it also goes against my belief in the election process.

    I am in talks with the administration at my school. Some fully support my stance as I am the advisor of the organization and I should ultimately decide what needs to be done for the good of the organization, and others who support my reasoning but question whether or not it should stick.

    What doesn't help my cause is the lack of respect I get from numerous parents in the organization who can be fanatical.

    I am weighing all options, and there will be more discussed next week regarding the matter.

    I will post an update with how it goes down.
     
  20. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Mr. Windchill,

    That sheds a little more light. I see both sides too. Sorry you have to deal with it in the first place. Good luck and keep us posted on what you all decide.

    Lemon
     
  21. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Mr. Windchill. Considering the new information, I think it's VITAL that you create a constitution and/or bylaws for this organization. I still think that you need to redo this process somehow so that there is student input for this year, even if you have to do it at the begining of next year. I also think that the suggestion to require canditates to have at least 2 reccomendations from facutly is very important. That would weed out a lot of the irresponsible students because faculty wouldn't sign letters from them.
     
  22. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    It is absolutely maddening when parents decide to relive their youth through their children's school careers. Not all parents do this, but there are some who live vicariously through their children as a way of trying to stay young or right any slights they may have felt or been dealt in their younger days. I hope it all works out Mr. Windchill.
     
  23. bluelightstar

    bluelightstar Companion

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    One thing you need to institute is teacher recommendations to help avoid this.
     
  24. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    For one of our school organizations, the students need to apply if they want to be part of the group much like it is a job. Then teachers are given a sheet with all the student applicants and qualities on which to rate the students (leadership, fairness, dependability, timeliness, etc.) Then average scores are found and applications reviewed. From these the members are selected.
     
  25. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    Jun 3, 2008

    I've only read through some posts, so I apologize if I repeat what's already been said. I'm sorry the parents are ganging up on you. It sounds like you had the best interests of everybody at heart, and you were just in a bad situation.

    1. You must have a constitution. It sounds like you're already on top of that. If this group is affiliated with a national organization, there probably already is a constitution. You just might have to dig around to find it. National orgs need a constitution for various things like government grants, but they're not always organized enough to let student chapters know what the constitution is or where to find it.

    2. The district and state probably-i'd guess definitely-has requirements for the operation of the club and its constitution. If you're unaware of these requirements, try reaching out to other faculty advisors or other chapters of the organization in order to get this information. If you neglect to follow the district and state rules, you could lose funding or even lose the chapter all together.

    3. I was in a student group and a national organization that appointed members, and it wasn't a bad thing. The key is that the student officers did the appointing, not the faculty advisor. Perhaps you could go to the previous student officers and have them ratify the appointments, or make their own appointments.

    4. If you decide to hold elections, I second the faculty recommendation idea. Each nominee should get at least one faculty recommendation. Nominees should also submit a statement of intent to all of the members of the organization - email or the web works well for this - and engage in at least one debate. That was the procedure for most large groups that I was involved with.

    5. Once you have a constitution and student officers, you should probably hang back as much as possible. I understand that you were thrust into a challenging situation this year, but in the future the advisor should play a minimal rule. It's better for the kids and better for your sanity!

    Writing a constitution isn't a difficult thing. It took me about a day to write it up and get it approved by the membership when I was a student leader. If you Google, you'll see that most student constitutions are very similar. Here are some links:

    http://web.mit.edu/asa/start/sample-constitution.html
    http://www.union.umd.edu/GSL/organizations/constitution.html
    http://www.amnestyusa.org/start-a-group/sample-constitution/page.do?id=1341002&n1=4&n2=63&n3=132
     
  26. Mr. Windchill

    Mr. Windchill Rookie

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    The national organization has a constitution which I became an expert in. With regard to officers, it mentions needing to have certain ones, but as far as the process it's a bit more ambiguous. I've talked to numerous advisors of other chapters who do appoint, and personnel with the state association have approved.

    The situation was delegated to one particular administrator at the school to settle. This administrator backed my decision agreeing that as the advisor it's my responsibility to do what I believe is in the best interest of the chapter. The parents backed down, and the students have seemed to put the differences behind them. I have no problem with them being upset with me, as long as they get along and work together that's the important thing.

    The time for elections came quickly and I don't think many of us envisioned the problems, so I wasn't thinking about the importance of a local constitution far enough back to have it help this process, although the in-fighting may have started then. I have not stressed the importance of a constitution enough, and I told the students if done correctly it will take them much of the summer because of the attention to detail they should give it.

    I can report that as of now the firestorm seems to be behind us. I will not be advising the group next year (long story, absolutely nothing to do with what occured, and I am so okay that it will be someone else's headache. The thought did occur to me that I could have gone a different direction that would have made my last few days more relaxing and enjoyable, but I stuck to my principles to do what I felt was right for that group of student's and their organization, not just now but long-term.

    Next year I am able to get back into my content area and things should be more smooth--fingers crossed!
     

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