Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Dirty Little Secret That The Media Refuses To Report. How Principal Quality Has Deteriorated Under Bloomberg & Klein

In the pre Bloomberg/Klein tenure almost all Principals rose through the teaching ranks and didn't forget their roots in the classroom. Sure, there were exceptions to this rule (my ex-Principal was one, more about him in another post) and some principals did forget their classroom roots. However, the vast majority of principals worked their way up the ranks. First, as a classroom teacher with over ten years of experience. Then as an Assistant Principal for five years with both administrative and classroom duties. Finally, after mastering both the classroom and the administrative functions, the person is now ready to become a Principal. Many of these Principals had long ago learned to collaborate with other people in the school to get things done. These lessons were never forgotten by the old Principals and any problems in the school were usually resolved in the school. Only those teachers accused of gross incompetence or criminal actions were removed from the school to face 3020-a charges. During these times the total amount of teachers removed from the school were usually less than a hundred throughout the City since removing a teacher from the school was a last resort because of the collateral damage done to the teacher's students and for maintaining staff morale in running a successful and smoothly-running school.

Under the Bloomberg/Klein tenure things have changed drastically. As the old Principals retired, or were forced out. New "Leadership Academy principals" took their place. Many of these "Leadership Academy principals" had limited classroom experience, some never even set foot into a classroom as a teacher! Further, these principals didn't know how to collaborate with heir staffs on what was best for the schools. Some of these "Leadership Academy principals" are in their 20's & early 30's and are not mature or experienced enough to handle the Principal's position but were given the position anyway. However, worst of all is that these "Leadership Academy principals" are taught that "it is your school and do whatever it takes to run it the way you see fit". The result has been a disaster to the parents, students, and teachers alike. No collaboration only domination when it comes to the school staff.

Joel Klein and his non-educators have given the principals complete control over the schools and that means that principals are allowed to remove teachers they do not want. These principals know that the DOE, despite the July 2, 2008 Rubber Room Agreement signed with the UFT, will not interfere with the Principal's decision to remove a teacher from the school. Furthermore, Tweed made it even easier by allowing the Principal to remove the teacher's salary from the school budget sixty days after the Principal removed the teacher. Finally, Tweed's use of the "fair student funding" formula encouraged principals to remove senior and highly paid teachers from the school's budget on trumped-up charges of misconduct or incompetence so that they can hire a "newbie teacher" to replace the reassigned teacher and still have enough money to use for other school functions. The result was an explosion of "rubber room" teachers (750) and the rise of the ATR population of 1,600 teachers.

The real problem in the City Public School System is that the quality of Principals are eroding as more and more inexperienced "Leadership Academy principals" take over schools and lack the necessary social skills to work with their staffs. The result is low school morale, staff mistrust, and quality teachers fleeing the schools. While the phony education reformers talk about quality teachers there is silence when it comes to the deterioration of the principals that run the schools.

For the "Leadership Academy principals" it is not about the children, its about their control over the schools. "Children Last" continues.


Pissedoffteacher said...


JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Thanks for your blog!

Anonymous said...

The entire DOE from Bloomberg down is a scam and a sham.

Michael Fiorillo said...

Well said, Chaz.

It should also be noted that this not an inadvertent consequence, but is in fact the policy of the DOE, part of their intention to purge institutional memory, disrupt and fragment the system, so as to more easily privatize it.

Pull back the curtain on charter schools and the foundations and think tanks that push them, and you will see that their boards are dominated by hedge fund, private equity and venture capital types. These people, few of who have ever had more than a cup of coffee in the classroom, care little or nothing about teaching, except insofar as it models their vision of the 21st century electronic sweatshop, a place dominated by overwork, insecurity, stress, tedium and surveillance (sounds similar to the Tweed regime, no?). Their obsession is governance, in other words power, power to restructure the schools and have dictatorial control over labor relations and everything else. Teachers and their unions - pathetic and collaborationist as the UFT is - stand in the way of this, and thus are the targets of their attacks.

Chaz said...

I agree with everybody who commented so far. I also want the UFT to expose these Principals to the media and file PERB charges against the PINI principals.

Anonymous said...

It is a generally accepted truism among teachers here on Long Island that administrators are failed teachers who have stayed in the retirement system. This might go a long way towards explaining their attitude to the successful veteran teacher. The attitude is part jealously, part resentment, and part hypersensitivity. And some more parts I could come up with if I had some coffee.
We have the same trend of less and less teaching experience for the newbie administrators as you are seeing in the city. As a matter of fact, experience and success at teaching are viewed as negative qualities by hiring superintendents.

OTE admin said...

This isn't unique to NYC; principal abuse of teachers is nationwide and is deliberate in order to save money.

ALL school districts have turned into cesspools of corruption thanks to privatization.

NY_I said...

Not just the quality of principals is in a bad way.
Here's an audio file of a recent news report on the high schools' failure to prepare students for high school.

I have posted several posts today on how the mayor's rule of the schools is far from being as successful as he claims, and that his arguments are based on statistical deceptions. See my blog: