Changing Principals To Change Schools

Obama and Arne Duncan are trying to raise the bar for everyone in education – teachers, administrators, and now principals.In an effort for full reform, they are now looking at principals, threatening to replace many of them, according to an article in the District Administration.

The government is providing a $3.5 billion fund to underachieving schools if they meet certain achievement benchmarks. If schools fail to meet these benchmarks, then they will be forced to make major reforms or surrender their share of funding.

Underachieving schools will be forced to replace their principal, half of their teaching staff, close down entirely and transfer students to higher-achieving schools or close down and reopen as a charter school to still be considered for the funding.

About 74% of underachieving schools would be eligible for part of the $3.5 billion grant under the transformational model of reform. With this model, schools would have to let the government overhaul instruction, evaluation systems and other school operations. On top of all that, they would have to replace their principals

Many education administrators are wondering where all the new principals will come from if many of them are laid off. A dearth of qualified replacements could simply lead to more problems, lasting for years.

A 2009 study, “Tenure and Retention of Newly Hired Principals in Texas” states that about half of newly-hired high school principals stay for three years, and a 2003 report from the University of Washington, “A Matter of Definition: Is There Truly a Shortage of School Principals?” suggests that many superintendents said there is a lack of principals with the necessary, strong leadership qualities.

The role of the principal will have to evolve heavily for America to enhance its education system. Principals will need to become proficient in data analysis to improve teachers’ performance, public relations skills to inform the community and parents about school achievements and employ best practices in education.

These are skills that most qualified principals already have, but average and subpar principals will have to learn new skills and learn them rapidly.

Many grassroots organizations have taken up this cause, creating training programs for principals.