The SRC: What went wrong?

“Earlier this month, around the time the Phillies fell into their offensive funk, another local team found itself in trouble. The School Reform Commission, put in place a decade ago to help revive the city’s struggling public schools, was beginning to implode.”

This is an excerpt from my commentary in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, “The SRC: What went wrong?”  Please click here to read the entire article.  You can respond or provide feedback by clicking on the comment button below.

Thanks for reading.

–Christopher Paslay

Shaking-up the SRC: What makes a good leader?



by Christopher Paslay


According to a story in today’s Inquirer, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission is “headed for a major shake-up”.  Sources state that Robert L. Archie Jr., a partner at the Duane Morris law firm, is set to replace current SRC Chairperson Sandra Dungee Glenn, and that there will be at least three new appointees to the commission.


This “shake-up” within the SRC leaves me wondering what kind of leaders will be running our district.  It brings to mind Verse 17 from the Tao Te Ching, a passage that ponders the qualities of a good leader:     


(as translated by American Stephen Mitchell)


When the Master governs, the people

are hardly aware that he exists.

Next best is a leader who is loved.

Next, one who is feared.

The worst is one who is despised.


If you don’t trust the people,

you make them untrustworthy.


The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.

When his work is done,

the people say, “Amazing:

we did it, all by ourselves!”


What kind of leaders will be running the Philadelphia School District?  Will they be loved?  Feared?  Despised?  How do we feel about our leaders now? 


Do they provide us with encouragement and positive reinforcements, or do they consistently focus their attention on the negatives?    


Are we, the hard working staff of the Philadelphia School District, trusted?  Respected?  How often do our leaders acknowledge us and say thank you?   


Last month, I discussed this passage with each of my English classes.  We talked about what makes a good leader.  In the beginning, the majority of my students argued that the best leader is one who is feared.  They reasoned that an effective leader couldn’t be loved, because in their minds, this meant that the person must be a push-over. 


But after further examination, we as a class came to the conclusion that the best leader is indeed the one who is loved. 


“If you love the leader, you’ll respect him and want to please him,” one student said.  “You’ll act not out of fear, but because you want to do the right thing.” 


This was a very wise insight from a very intelligent teenager. 


So how will we view our new team of leaders?  How will they view us?


Will there be love?  Fear?  Anger?   


When our work is done, will we say, Amazing: We did it, all by ourselves!    


Only time will tell.