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Policy Irony: Rules Make Life Easier!

I'm a recovering "leave little to chance" kinda gal. My kids (typically) nap like well-oiled machines, falling asleep at 12:45 and awaking just before 3:30. Ask me to move my dinnertime up by 30 minutes, and it may or may not happen because I am programmed to have dinner on the table at 5:59 PM with the call for supper at precisely 6:00...if only I were kidding.

But the truth is, I have found structure and rules to (overall) make life easier. And adopting a policy is no different.

There is a lot of buzz lately around ed. policy. I know, I know: There always has been, I suppose. But it seems that there are so many things for which to adopt a policy now that at every turn, we are exposed to yet another toolkit or template for policy-making. States make policy, even feds make policy. But you can make policy, too.

To me, policy--or more practically, on small scales, policies--clearly outline expectations for all parties for which the policy is in effect. Who's doing what and when and how and why? A policy makes for a quick progress check also and can even be written in a checklist format.

Are you tired of harassing students for late work? Make a policy! Tired of students constantly asking to sharpen pencils? Make a policy! Tired of frequent requests for restroom breaks? Make a policy! "Heretofore students needing to use the restroom shall complete the 'restroom request form' and turn it in to the teacher before said trip to the restroom is granted. Students attempting to complete more than 3 restroom requests in a given semester will find themselves in conference with the teacher and an administrator. Signed into law on...." Better yet, get students in on the action, call for a vote. Hooray, democracy!

See how easy that was? No questions remain. Everyone knows the policy and how many times one can use the restroom. After 3 times--no go. The end!

Let state agencies also take note. If you want the troops on the ground to utilize that fantastic new student orientation toolkit (you know who you are), make it policy in the RFP. Afraid of the word 'policy'? Call them 'expectations.' Expectations are the same across the state, across the board. Plus, local troops are able to just pick up your fabulous resource and use it. In truth, I argue that people don't always want options. Make a clear outline of expectations and stick with it. Win-win.

So with the inauguration of a new president and all of his various policymakers, may we embrace the idea that rules make life easier. If our lawmakers are competent, that is...stay tuned.

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