News Roundup - Part Three

Last story: shocking news but all this turnaround and transformation? It's just dawning on some ed reformers that it might not be so easy to find replacements for principals. This was also in the NY Times. The Obama plan for turning around low-performing schools has hit a snag:

That policy decision, though, ran into a difficult reality: there simply were not enough qualified principals-in-waiting to take over. Many school superintendents also complained that replacing principals could throw their schools into even more turmoil, hindering nascent turnaround efforts.

And, guess what? They have to slow down the machine, allowing principals in place to stay on for three years instead of two.

Although the program created an expectation that most schools would get new leadership, new data from eight large states show that many principals’ offices in failing schools still bear the same nameplates. About 44 percent of schools receiving federal turnaround money in these states still have the same principals who were leading them last year.

This is my favorite quote:

“If we’re talking about turning around 700 schools, I don’t think you can find 700 principals who are capable of taking on the challenge of this work,” Mr. Little said. “If you could, why would we have this many failing schools?”

No kidding.

Note: Rep. Reuven Carlyle, who cares deeply about education but sometimes gets it wrong , has put forth a bill about principals.

The bill is HB 1593 - " Establishing a residency provisional principal certification" (for 3 years)

Encourages highly capable individuals with qualities of leadership to become principals through field-based, rigorous, but flexible preparation programs offered in close collaboration with school districts.
Encourages school districts to provide principals with increased decision-making authority, including personnel decisions and allocation of financial resources.
Holds principals accountable to demonstrate the qualities essential to lead a school.
Requires the professional educator standards board to:
(1) Establish a residency provisional principal certification;
(2) Adopt standards that define a scope and level of professional managerial and leadership experience for certification.

Apparently this is being done in conjunction with a group called the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board. This is under the guise of "turnaround leadership". I'll have to give them a call on Monday.

Folks, raise your hand if you know what a principals number one role is at a school. The answer?

Be the instructional leader for the teaching corps.

Not be a manager. Not be a budgeting agent. Not be a disciplinarian. It's watching over the teaching corps and making sure they are supported and guided in their efforts.

I don't care what kind of leadership you have in business. That's great and bully for you but it does not mean you can effectively lead a school. If we are looking for better managers, this would be great. We are looking for better principals.

I'll have to ask both the SEA and PASS what they think of this legislation. I have to wonder if Rep. Carlyle thought of the union ramifications of this bill which could cause a huge firestorm especially since new teacher evaluations have become in vogue. How will these non-educator principals know what good teaching looks like and how much training will that take before they do?


Sahila said…
They're waiting for George and Laura Bush to turn 50,000 military, sports and business execs into principals by 2020...

at least, that's the goal of the Bush Institute...

Bush? Broad? Aw, what's the difference?!!!

Bush Institute to Churn Out 50,000 Principals
Sahila said…

Broad provides the supers and upper management of school districts and DOEs...

Broad trains the boards of directors and/or gets mayoral control of school districts happening...

TFA provides the 'teachers'... and

Bush provides the 'principals'...

Effective, efficient - complete control of the public education system...

Not bad... Machiavelli would have been proud....
Legislation fixes everything. said…
Sounds like Principals for America - PFA.

Someone stop the madness!
dan dempsey said…
Well now ... no so great plans that do not match reality.

Exactly why ==>Common Core Standards:
an early entry into expensive chaos
should be avoided.
nikki said…
Yes, SPS needs better Principals. There are Principals that are good but there are also the deadbeat ones who are just interested in ladder climbing. Pretty much like many of the managers at the glass palace.

There is so much corruption in SPS right now that one really has to wonder how many lawsuits are pending against the district and for what reasons. How many lawsuits have been filed in the past and settled. Are these lawsuits a result of the budget woes the district is currently having.
Anonymous said…
The irony is that we now will do the lemon dance with princpals, just like Waiting for Superman showcased, with the teachers.

MAPsucks said…
C'mon Melissa! That's easy! Non-educator principals need only look at MAP test scores! They are all you need, and make drafting colorful school report cards really easy.
Anonymous said…
Being an instructional leader is what principals may get to at the end of the day after they spend the time handling all of the business of running a school, like making sure the buses run on time and handling student safety issues. You don't ever have to have been a teacher to be a superintendent, so it doesn't make much sense to require that all building-based administrators have teaching backgrounds. I think it would be great if there was an associate principal or vice principal position that non-educators who are good running the business end of a school could handle to free up principals to focus on instructional leadership and evaluation.

peonypower said…
All administrators need to be educators first- period, and they need to spend longer than 3 years as a teacher. The best administrator I have seen is Phil Brockman, and he was a math teacher for a long time before he became a principal. Administrators are tasked with the evaluation of teachers, and someone with just a few years of teaching experience does not usually have the depth and breadth of instructional knowledge to really evaluate what good instruction looks like. In fact all too much of what I am seeing is a parroting of what is dujour in ed reform right now- ie you must have your learning goal written on the board to get the gold star from your principal. I had to rearrange my room to accommodate this request this year, buy a new white board, move my furniture etc. Nevermind that I write out the learning objectives for every lab and activity my students see, nope- it had to be on the board so that students can look up and see it. As if that is what will make them learn.

I think it should be like colleges (especially for high schools- a dean of students, a dean of instruction, and the president who is the public face of the school. Let the paper pushers push paper and the people who know education be the leaders of the teachers.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Peonypower. I would prefer more than 3 years experience teaching in classroom setting (not just Adult literacy or teaching English in Japan/China/Kathmandu on the resume).

From a Parent
Anonymous said…
peony at 4:00

I would restrict it to at least 7 years teaching - flush out the bureaucrats in waiting who will put up with 5 years to a bureaucrat -

I would also restrict principals to working in the age group where they taught - for at least the first 5 years, anyway.

given American management's focus on churning at all levels so only the best brown nosers rise to the top of the tank - who cares about stability, other than being able to reliably and consistently loot the organizations you're running.

I'm fine if they want an assistant principal to be a manager. But if the principal is to lead the teaching corps, he/she has got to understand what good teaching looks like, how to guide it and how to support it.

I completely get that not every district, including our own, has great principals in every school. But this "turnaround" model supposes there are thousands of great ones just hanging around someplace. That the reality is that it isn't so is something the ed reformers might want to come to grips with sometime soon.
Ed said…
No Nikki. Its the other way around:

The budget problems are the source of the "lawsuits" and the District's "in your face" attitude since MGJ got here.

Remember, Bill Kendrick had 2 attorneys on staff. Today I believe there are 9 FTE's in the budget and 5 are lawyers. There are at least a dozen other attorney's on staff including the new person in the Board office. You get them all in the same "palace" and you get the kind of culture that exists at SSD.

And when they are too busy, they hire outside. Some of these former associates enjoy the occasional case to earn sky high fees to lose and then move on.

Between them, they will fight to the last dollar in the taxpayers wallet before admitting they were wrong in the first place and by that time, no one remembers the original point.

Sound like a formula for fiscal health? Open you eyes, we are living (and paying for) it.
dan dempsey said…
Get ready for the next round of SPS legal lunacy on March 8, 2011 as the District appeals their arbitrary and capricious HS math adoption decision. Grade 10 Black student Math pass rate on HSPE = 12.5% and Math White-Black achievement Gap rose to 55.6%.

If the District successfully appeals, I guess they plan to continue using math crappy materials.

Anyone read Article IX of the WA Constitution?

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