“Come in,” I said, “we need to talk”. The Dutch Education System looked a bit worried. It hung on to the door for a moment as if it were keeping an escape route open.
“This is about your kids, isn’t it” it muttered.
“Yes, it is. But it’s more about you, what you want to be” I said softly, motioning towards a chair. Edu sat down carefullly, looking defensive.
“I’ve been under a lot of pressure…”, he started to say, but cut himself off with a wince. “I’m not going to make excuses.”
I shifted in my chair, trying to find a more welcoming posture, tamping down my anger.
“We have been worried about you”, I said. All your friends and customers are worried about you, Edu. I know you want to do a good job, but we are just not seeing the results we need. I am afraid we might have to let you go.”
“Go!?” Edu looked outraged. “you can’t let me go, there’s no one else that can do my job!”
“But Edu, YOU aren’t doing your job!” I snarled, patience fraying. “You focus on the children who are easiest to handle, do everything by the numbers and procedures and you exclude the children who need you most!” I could see his face stiffening and dropped my voice, “you know that’s not right”. For a moment my words seemed to hit home. His shoulders slumped, but then his head snapped up, bitter and angry.
“That IS what I’m supposed to do Parent! Run an efficient process for the right kind of children and the others go to, well, other places. Suitable places.” He looked away guiltily, “We just label them and ship them out. I don’t know what happens after that. It’s better for them. Really”. The look in his eyes broke my heart: so empty, so desolate. “I run things well”, he said, voice empty of all emotion “all the latest methods! We get good numbers.”
I sat back, rubbing my temples. He wasn’t going to make this easy.
“Edu, it’s just not working. The numbers and procedures a great, really, but that’s not what we hired you for.” The incomprehension on his face was horrible to see. “We wanted you to make children strong and capable. Proud of what they can do and who they are. We could have had a machine run the procedures and chunk out numbers, Edu” I said softly but relentlessly, “a machine”. I paused and drew in a long breath, “I’m sorry Edu, but you are just not in touch with what we need. We have to let you go.”