Tuesday, July 01, 2008
The Bully Principal
Since the Kleinberg era the New York City schools have seen less and less veteran teachers working their way into administration. Almost gone is the 10+ year veteran teacher who becomes an administrator and after 5+ years as an Assistant Principal is finally given a Principal's job. While not all these old-time principals were good, most of them did work with the school staff and didn't forget their roots as a veteran teacher. However, under the Kleinberg regime of terror, we now have the "Leadership Academy Principal, who are usually young, with little or no classroom experience, and have difficulty working with school staff.
These Leadership Academy Principals seem to have one characteristic in common. They have little interpersonal skills and "bully" the staff when they don't get their own way. These bully principals harass veteran teachers and will have them removed from the school when given the opportunity. Further, these bully principals will only hire newbie teachers and try to intimidate them to do what the principal wants. Many of these schools are small schools and have a staff that is almost entirely made up of inexperienced teachers. Finally, because the Leadership Academy principal is told to run the school as a business and to work with Tweed, there is no loyalty to the school staff and all incidents, no matter how trivial or minor, is promptly reported to Tweed.
Well, the New York City Public School cannot be run as a business. The students are not widgets and the teachers are not cogs. Every student is different and a teacher must adjust their teaching style, based upon student composition. No one style or model works for every classroom and veteran principals understand that. However, the Leadership Academy Principal obviously doesn't and they demand that their teachers follow the approved model or else. Is in any wonder that in these schools there is anecdotal evidence of an increase in "Letters-To-The-File" (LIF), greater teacher turnover, and low morale. Many of these bully principals have signed on to be "empowerment principals", meaning even less DOE oversight.
You would think that these bully principals would be removed by Tweed. However, the DOE is very slow in removing principals, unlike teachers, principals are presumed innocent and are given every opportunity to correct their problems and even when they are eventually removed from the school 3 to 5 years down the road, just like a bad penny they show up as a principal in another school to continue their regime of terror in that school. Even Chapter Leaders are not immune to the bully Principal. In the New York Teacher, Ron Issacs wrote an article that shows how easy it is to remove a teacher, even a Chapter Leader!
It is time for the UFT stop with the editorials and start suing these bully principals and force Tweed to retreat into a more reasonable stance on what actions allows a principal to remove a teacher. Our union's inaction has caused both the ATR crises and overcrowded "rubber rooms". I have said it again and again, principal abuses will continue until there is a consequence to their abusive actions.