Administrative Curriculum Directors Are Not the Best Answer

Too Many Rushed Changes

As a result of the failed November referendum, the D86 Board of Education has enacted painful cuts to its annual operating budget to pay for required long-term facilities improvements. Now that these cuts have become a reality, the Board is considering making further changes to the foundation of academic excellence: replacing building-level department chairs with administrative curriculum directors (CDs). The argument for moving to CDs centers upon the ability to provide district wide curriculum equity, yet a rushed decision making process seems to be driving its consideration.

Compelling Reasons Not to Rush

As we’ve noted previously, building-level department chairs are the standard educational organization model used by districts of excellence. High achieving peer districts that have tried administrative curriculum directors have abandoned them and returned to building-level department chairs. In fact, in a recent survey regarding this issue, 90 percent of D86 teachers said they viewed department chairs as superior to administrative curriculum directors. As education professionals, it is clear to us that department chairs are best positioned to create high achieving curricular outcomes for students and rapidly achieve curriculum equity.

So if our department chairs have created a rapid and efficient plan to create curriculum equity, the Department Chair Model is the industry standard, high achieving districts in the area have abandoned administrative CDs in favor of returning to building-level department chairs, and teachers overwhelmingly do not support administrative CDs, what reason remains to rush this decision?   

Building Leaders Will Deliver

As professional educators, we encourage the Board to recognize the multifaceted value of building-level department chairs to continue to promote academic excellence in a myriad of ways while also rapidly achieving curriculum equity. We encourage the Board to give department chairs the opportunity to work directly with District administration on any mandated, rapid timeline for district wide curriculum equity using “systems that promote . . . collaboration . . . and accountability” as per the Strategic Plan.  We don’t want to forfeit the known benefits of having this structure by hastily switching to an unproven and risky model for a district of our caliber.

In our professional opinion, a rushed decision to move to administrative curriculum directors would be a major misstep. As teachers, we are concerned that the true cost of administrative curriculum directors may be a diminishment of our tradition of excellence.